All eyes will be on Dan Quinn and how he works his magic with the Falcons' last-ranked defense, but there's room for retooling the offense, too.
At his introductory press conference, Quinn revealed his offensive philosophy:
The number one thing for me is balance. A team that’s able to have run and pass, that’s the hardest to go against. I have always admired teams that have tough, physical styles, something like the zone run game and then also have ways to attack vertically in the passing game. For me, the number one criteria is going to be balance and having different ways to attack.
This is welcome news as the Falcons haven't exhibited anything close to balance since 2011.
That season, they finished fourth in passing attempts (594) and 11th in rushing attempts (453). Yardage wise, the Falcons placed eighth in passing yards with 4,192 and 17th in rushing yards with 1,834. It was also the last season Atlanta had a capable running back: Michael Turner in his final year before his immediate decline the following season.
Since then, the offense has been painfully one-dimensional.
While the Falcons advanced to the NFC Championship Game in 2012, they did so thanks to passing game. That season, they ranked eighth in passing attempts with 615 and sixth in yards with 4,509. Compare that to a 26th ranking for rushing attempts with 378 and a 29th ranking with 1,397 rushing yards.
The 2013 season featured the biggest discrepancy. Atlanta finished last in both rushing attempts and yards with 321 and 1,247, respectively, while finishing third in passing attempts with 659 and seventh in yards with 4,243.
The offense also dealt with a rash of injuries, including newly-signed Steven Jackson, and their top two offensive weapons, Julio Jones and Roddy White. With a completely one-dimensional offense and a turnstile offensive line, opposing defenses were able to pin their ears back and sack Matt Ryan a career-high 44 times.
This past season, the Falcons again finished third in the league with 632 passing attempts that went for 4,553 yards - good for fifth in the league. On the other hand, they were 27th with 372 rushing attempts and 24th with 1,498 yards.
Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking scheme is a step in the right direction. If the zone blocking implementation is successful, expect great things from Ryan and the Falcons offense.
Thoughts on the Falcons being able to both pass and run effectively?