The Falcons have to do a lot between now and September 2020 in order to ensure they’re relevant this year. If we had to pick a top priority, though, here’s where our staff would go.
Fixing the offensive line, the sequel!
I am not sure how much we can realistically expect out of Dirk Koetter, especially after Dave looked at his success after his first year at each team he worked with. As much as I want a top defense, I know the Falcons are a long way from becoming the Baltimore Ravens defense. I think Dan Quinn needs to rely on the offense to get him to the playoffs, with the defense held together partially by duct tape and bubblegum. There is not much to do to fix the offensive line: Just add one competent guard. Can Thomas Dimitroff do it if his job depended on it? Like Koetter’s experience with improving offenses, history suggests not. - Matt Chambers
All about the trenches
Do we say this nearly every single year? Why yes, yes we do. Yet, the issue in the trenches (both offensive and defensive lines) has persisted since time eternal. On defense, we have Grady Jarrett and Takk McKinley and that’s about it. The offensive line isn’t as bad, though we still need to patch the left guard spot and find a successor to Alex Mack, who will turn 34 in November. That means we could easily invest in an offensive guard, center, defensive tackle and edge rusher without even worrying about depth. Same story, different year. - David Walker
Improving the lines
The Falcons brass put together their version of a strategic plan to improve the offensive line last offseason with mixed results. The offensive line is still in need of some tweaks but I am keeping my fingers crossed that there is a tactical plan in place to improve the defensive line. If I have to endure another season of ranking 29th in the NFL in team sacks, I will lose it. Band-aids has been placed over this particular unit for way too long, which is why the inconsistency has been, well, consistent. - Eric Robinson
The Falcons are a team with plenty of talent. The perception that they’re one of the most talented teams in the league has taken a hit, but they’re set at several key positions on offense and have plenty of young talent on defense, enough to contend if all goes well.
What the Falcons need is better thinking. They need to address their cap limitations creatively, by signing players overlooked by other teams to fill key roles. They need to handle the draft creatively, rather than just ticking down a list of needs and potentially burning an early round selection on a running back. And they need their coaching staff to be much more creative about the way they put their players in a position to succeed, with more motion and fewer first down runs on offense, and a less stock way of using defensive linemen on the other side of the ball.
That’s not going to solve all the team’s woes, but given the limitations they’re working with this offseason, simply working harder to do things differently in 2020 might be a productive direction. -Dave Choate