Mister Obvious Says – The Falcons are optimistic with a fresh start, hiring former Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to be their head coach, replacing the once-popular Mike Smith. The Falcons combined to win 10 games in the last two years after they averaged at least 10 wins a year in Smith’s five previous seasons. Quinn hired former Redskins and Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to jumpstart the Falcons’ offense that had gone stagnant, especially with the running game behind QB Matt Ryan.
Biggest Addition – LB Brooks Reed came over from Houston to help shore up Atlanta’s defense. He is coming off his best season as a pro with 41 tackles, three sacks, one interception and four passes deflected.
Biggest Loss – S Dwight Lowery, who did not allow a touchdown to be caught against him last year, is now with the Indianapolis Colts.
Rookie To Watch – DT Grady Jarrett, son of former Atlanta LB Jessie Tuggle, was underrated coming out of Clemson because of his size (6’1” and 304 pounds) but Atlanta’s coaches like him because of his strength and hustle on every play.
Marquee Match-up – Week 16, two days after Christmas, Atlanta hosts Carolina in a game that could determine the NFC South winner. The Panthers have won in Atlanta the last two seasons, including a 34-3 blowout that determined the division champ last year.
Game Most Likely To Win – Week 5 at home against the Redskins, who may or may not have Robert Griffin III at quarterback by then.
Game Most Likely to Lose – The Week 3 game at Dallas will be tough. It wraps up Atlanta stretch of playing NFC East teams, as they host Philly in the season opener and follow with a game at New York before heading to Dallas.
Overall thoughts – It was time for a change and Quinn brings a winning pedigree from Seattle with him. He should bring the fun back to Atlanta; something Smith started but couldn’t finish. Ryan and high-profile receiver Julio Jones, with a stronger running game, should equate to more victories. Quinn’s specialty is on the defensive side of the ball and the Falcons are in need of the attention, allowing a league-high 398.2 yards per game last year. In a weak division, the slightest improvement might be enough to come out on top.
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