My positives regarding the 2017 Atlanta Falcons: They’re a very good team representing what has become a very good organization.
My doubts regarding the 2017 Atlanta Falcons: They’re coming off the worst loss in NFL history, and they’re doing it without the architect of one of the 10 best offenses in NFL history. (Although said architect did bear blame for said egregious loss.)
Those doubts would seem to be underscored by the findings of ESPN’s Mike Sando, who surveyed (anonymous) NFL execs and assigned a grade to the Falcons’ offseason. That grade is a C-plus, though one front-office type who awarded a C is quoted as saying it wasn’t “a bad C” because the Falcons were “at the head of the class already and maintained.”
The panel’s biggest issue regards offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, now head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Sando offers this exec-offered sentiment: “I can’t remember (in recent years) a Super Bowl team having that type of coaching turnover on both sides of the ball. To think that going from Shanahan to Steve Sarkisian is going to be some sort of upgrade, there are a lot of different objections to that premise.”
Yes. One of them is mine. Shanahan was great last season, at least until the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl; Sarkisian won’t be as good. As for the other part of the execs’ issues … well, here’s where I quibble with the quibbling.
Departed defensive coordinator Richard Smith isn’t irreplaceable. Indeed, the Falcons’ Super Bowl run was fueled by Dan Quinn stepping in to call defenses in December. Marquand Manuel might well be an upgrade over Smith. I think there’s every chance the defense will be better; I’m reasonably certain the offense will be worse.