Arthur Blank watched his two pro teams take different paths this season: Atlanta United brought home the championship trophy while the Falcons were out of the playoff race shockingly early. The team responded by shuffling out a lot of coaches and a few veteran plans.
While we heard from Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff after the end of the season and a bit during Super Bowl week, Blank gave some frank answers to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the state of the Falcons.
First, Blank revealed the team’s biggest need: offensive line.
“Can he? Yes, he can?” Blank said when asked if Dimitroff could fix the offensive line. “Most importantly, the coach and Thomas believe that’s probably our No. 1 priority.”
We know the offense works better when the offensive line plays better. However, it is interesting as we typically have defensive line at the top of team needs. The team’s defensive tackles are surprisingly good, however, the defensive end spot lacks both depth and competent starters.
Still, the Falcons should come away with at least two new starters along the offensive line this offseason. There’s not much available in free agency with Atlanta’s best option perhaps finding a Ryan Schraeder replacement. There’s a chance a few guards are cut but otherwise Andy Levitre is one of the top rated interior linemen.
Blank confirmed the team is sticking with a zone scheme and will look for smaller, more athletic blockers.
Yes, it’s that bad.
The most surprising thing from Blank’s interview? He volunteered that Dimitroff and Quinn are not a package deal, suggesting one could be fired while the other keeps their job. That is an odd distinction considering it does not appear that question was asked.
“They are connected at the hip only in terms of their charge to make the team better and roster better and our team to perform better. But beyond that, they are not connected. They have different jobs and different responsibilities. They are not a twin by any means.”
Blank appears to be setting the table to get rid of either Dimitroff or Quinn if the Falcons again miss the playoffs. Some of the shine has come off of recent drafts. The once promising 2015 draft may have given the team a total of one second-contract player in Grady Jarrett. It is not clear how much leash either has with Blank but it is clear that this is a very important season to the owner.