New Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has been on the job for little more than a week. He told us in his news conference that he would begin the evaluation process of the current roster that same night.
We should be fortunate Quinn didn’t feel overwhelmed watching the video and escaped back to Seattle.
There is a lot of work to do, and forming opinions of his current roster is step one for Quinn. He must first see what he has, see who he wants to keep and identify the areas needing the most improvement.
It won’t take long for him to pinpoint those spots on the roster that need help. But it will be interesting to see who he prefers to keep. Don’t be surprised if a few players we might deem unimportant are kept around.
Coaches have the ego to believe they can make people better, so Quinn likely will see a few players he will believe he can make better. That’s good. There probably are a few players on the roster, particularly on defense, who need someone else to believe in them.
Atlanta’s general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, already has said he prefers to keep free agent-to-be Sean Weatherspoon. This seems like a mistake since Weatherspoon has not been able to stay healthy. He has played in only 47 games during his five-year career and only 20 games in the past three years. Perhaps the Falcons feel Weatherspoon will be cheap since he’s coming off an Achilles injury, but he should not be considered a centerpiece of the defense.
The linebacker position must be improved, whether Weatherspoon is re-signed or not. Paul Worrilow is decent, but the Falcons need to do better. Prince Shembo showed promise as a rookie, but the Falcons need a veteran who can come in and be a leader and a pass rusher.
Ah, yes, a pass rusher. That’s what the Falcons need. Atlanta has been in the bottom five in sacks each of the past three seasons. Former Statesboro and Georgia star Justin Houston is a free agent. He led the NFL in sacks with 22 last season. The Falcons should really back the truck up and let Houston write his own check.
But they’ll need more. Even if they sign a big free agent like Houston, they’ll need help in the draft. Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora are free agents, and they need to be allowed to walk away. It’s time to get players who can really get after the quarterback instead of having players who only talk about it or did it when they were younger.
And on offense, Quinn and new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will have to take a close look at the line of scrimmage. With Shanahan’s zone-blocking style, who will he want to keep? It might make it easier for a running back to be productive, but it might not be enough to make Stephen Jackson young again. The Falcons need to cut bait with Jackson and get someone new to run the football or give Devonta Freeman a shot.
The Hawks changed their front office structure a few years ago and look what general manager Danny Ferry did to build a winner. The Braves switched general managers last fall and have been the most active they have been in decades. Now with a new coach on board and a new front office organizational chart for the Falcons, it’s their turn.
But for Quinn to know what he needs, he first has to see what he already has. Those decisions will be crucial to an Atlanta turnaround.
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