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How much 2021 offensive improvement is fair to expect for the Falcons?

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Yesterday, we shared projections from ESPN’s Mike Clay for the Falcons. Those are interesting every year, but particularly this year with a brand new coaching staff, front office, and a changing roster. Clay put the Falcons on target for 8 wins and modest offensive improvement, with the former being more fair-sounding than the latter.

I argued that adding Arthur Smith as a coach is likely to improve the offense quite a bit, and the inclusion of Kyle Pitts to a group of weapons that already includes Julio Jones*, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage and an underrated back in Mike Davis means the Falcons are pretty stacked on that side of the ball. With at least a slightly easier schedule on paper, it’s genuinely difficult for me to look at last year’s tire fire efforts in the red zone and not think real improvement is likely in the offing.

On the flip side, though, there are reasons to harbor at least some doubt. The left guard and center positions are going to be open competitions between unproven options, Julio is not 100% going to be in Atlanta this coming season, and it’s not always easy and seamless when you introduce new coaches and play callers to your offense. The team’s depth at running back in particular is still also a concern.

I’m interested in your opinion: Is it fair to expect significant improvement from this offense, or is Clay right and this Falcons team won’t make real strides on that side of the ball in year one under Arthur Smith?