The Atlanta Falcons may be entering the 2022 season with a lot of new names on the roster, but they’re not a team you should be sleeping on, according to starting wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus.
Zaccheaus is just one of a handful of Falcons’ top offensive players returning in 2022 after the team lost their QB1, Matt Ryan, to the Indianapolis Colts, WR1 Calvin Ridley to a suspension and WR2 Russell Gage to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Nonetheless, Zaccheaus feels that this roster filled with new faces has what it takes to secure a playoff berth this upcoming season.
“I feel like we’re a playoff team,” Zaccheaus told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We just (have) to put everything together. Really start fast at the beginning of the season and not get into a hole. I just feel like as a team, we can shock a lot of people.”
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Zaccheaus On Track for An Even Bigger Year
Zaccheaus joined the Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2019. He finished his rookie year with three receptions for 115 yards and a score. He also added two tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown on special teams.
With the absence of Julio Jones, Zaccheaus saw his production increase in 2020, where he recorded his first 100-yard game. While playing in 11 games, he had 20 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown.
But 2021 was Zaccheaus’s best season yet as he logged career-highs of 31 receptions for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
No with no Ridley and no Gage, Zaccheaus returns as the Falcons’ top receiver, which means he should get even more targets in 2022, which means even more production than we saw from him last fall.
While it would be nice to have a better season than the one before, Zaccheaus isn’t focused on numbers.
“The biggest thing for me is just being healthy and playing in all 17 games,” Zaccheaus said. “I think everything else will take care of itself.”
A Reminder: Falcons Drafted Impact Players
Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, there were several directions the Falcons could go with their No. 8 overall pick and many thought it would be a new addition to the offensive or defensive line instead, the team turned to one of the draft’s top receivers: Drake London.
London is set to be an immediate start and impact alongside tight end Kyle Pitts. In fact, we should see Pitts score more, especially on American soil, this year with the addition of London, who will take away a lot of the opposing defense’s attention.
From there, the Falcons traded up to grab a potential sack machine in Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie, which now gives the team a healthy edge rotation. Then Atlanta selected a triple-threat off the board in linebacker/running back/quarterback Troy Andersen, who could end up being Deion Jones’s replacement if the team decides to move on from him.
But the real kicker came when the Falcons took Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder. After 14 seasons of Matt Ryan, Ridder is set to become the future of Atlanta and he says he’s not leaving until he “wins a Super Bowl.” Whether or not he starts in 2022 remains to be seen but he has a real shot at competing for the job against Marcus Mariota.
Going back to what I said above about how Atlanta will have a healthy rotation at edge––the team added another big edge defender with their 82nd overall pick in DeAngelo Malone. Malone will likely have to compete for playing time, but he brings a lot of speed and great footwork to Atlanta which gives him a very promising future.
The Falcons’ edge rotation isn’t the only position finally coming together. Atlanta’s running back room looks solid with veterans Cordarrelle Patterson, Qadree Ollison, Damien Willson and the addition of rookie back Tyler Allgeier.
After drafting some flops in 2021, you can tell that Terry Fontenot really honed in on every pick and every need this year as he found some missing pieces for head coach Arthur Smith to finally run a successful offense and added some studs that fit Dean Pees’ defense.
Zacchaeus’s statement may seem far-fetched for the 2022 season, but the Falcons have been making the necessary moves to bolster every position as best they can, which ultimately puts them right on track to being a contender soon, rather than later.
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