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Julio Jones: Steve Sarkisian is ‘real chill, a players’ coach’

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The offensive players seem to be adapting to the Falcons’ new offensive coordinator.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the approach with the Falcons’ offense this offseason under the direction of new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. So far, players are responding to Sarkisian’s coaching style.

“Sark’s a great OC,” wide receiver Julio Jones said Tuesday. “Real chill, players’ coach, he listens. He’s not stuck in his ways or anything like that. Like I said, he’s a players’ coach and he’s easy to communicate with.”

The offensive coordinator role was the main question facing the Falcons heading into this offseason. Kyle Shanahan, who orchestrated the league’s top-scoring offense last season, ended up with a head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers to show for his efforts. Enter Sarkisian, who has never called a play at the pro level, but will take the reins in Atlanta this season.

Sarkisian is off to a good start with building relationships with the offensive coaching staff and players.

“I’ve been encouraged so far in terms of the connection between not just the quarterbacks and the receivers,” Dan Quinn said Tuesday. “That’s pretty natural with the guys who are calling the plays, but with other positions as well. With running back, with offensive line. So up through four or five sessions in, I’m pleased with the connection with the team, the staff.”

And it’s Sarkisian’s ability to communicate, and willingness to listen to his players, that stands out so far.

“He’s definitely a connector, between the staff and with players, and I think oftentimes that’s what players are saying when they say he’s a ‘players’ coach,’” Quinn said. “It’s the ability to talk and communicate on things that a player may like or may see, and us, as coaches, listening to that. They certainly have the experience of being out there on the field.”

That flexibility and willingness to consider players’ perspectives will be a real asset for the Falcons’ offense this season.