We've been discussing the roster turnover to come, but with the coaching staff nearly complete and the NFL scouting combine sneaking up on us, it's time to dive in a bit more deeply on those impending changes.
D. Orlando Ledbetter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a look at what might lie ahead for the Falcons, who are currently evaluating the entire roster under the watchful eye of new head coach Dan Quinn. The only clue we have as to where this team is headed comes from Quinn's assertion that he loves Julio Jones—keep in mind his contract is up after the 2015 season—and that Thomas Dimitroff wants Sean Weatherspoon to return. Other than that, very few players are absolutely certain to return.
This puts the Falcons at a crossroads, particularly on defense. The team needs pass rushers with "speed and length," as Quinn says in the article, and they desperately need to add talented players to their linebacking corps, which is currently young and thin. This is what happens when you've fired your head coach of seven years, and when your defense spent the last two seasons as one of the worst units in the league. Oh, and don't forget that the Falcons currently only have two running backs under contract and may need to change up the line to fit a Kyle Shanahan-friendly zone blocking scheme. This likely isn't a one offseason job for this coaching staff and front office, but they're going to want and need to knock out as many needs as possible.
While there may be more discord in the front office than is being indicated in a piece like this, outwardly everything being said is deeply encouraging. Dimitroff doesn't have the same personnel power he once did—Scott Pioli will be in charge of player acquisition and drafting, while Quinn retains final say over the roster—he's still saying the Falcons will be collaborative about their approach to acquiring new talent and slicing the current roster.
"When you're putting together a football team, it's so important to communicate," Dimitroff said. "General manager, head coach and player personnel can all come together and talk about the specifics. Dan is going to be a great addition to this organization, and he's able to do that. ... This is about having a team, group approach to this."
Whether that approach pays off remains to be seen, and we'll all care less about the spirit of collaboration than the on-the-field results in the end. Once more, we remind you to brace for major changes, and to discuss what you think those changes my be.