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Atlanta Falcons season preview: Quinn takes the reins

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Around The NFL's season preview goes to the NFC South.

Change we can believe in


The most vanilla team in Hard Knocks history got a shot of energy when they hired coach Dan Quinn from Seattle and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan from Cleveland. They are two of the brightest young minds in football and should bring aggression to a roster that has grown stale. General manager Thomas Dimitroff went for quantity in free agency to solve the team's pass rush woes (Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed, O'Brien Schofield) and quality in the draft with No. 8 overall pick Vic Beasley.

You can't solve everything in one offseason. The team is hoping that Shanahan's scheme can solve the offensive line issues that destroyed last year's team because it's still not a talented group. Matt Ryan is an underrated top-ten quarterback ready to win a title now, but his organization has failed him lately. It's starting to remind us of many of Tony Romo's best seasons in Dallas, where he was blamed for an uneven roster around him.

Every game, all season

Biggest Concern


Consider it a win if Quinn can make this defense average. Cornerback Desmond Trufant is a future star, but middle-of-the-road on defense overall would be a huge upgrade. The Falcons are built to win by scoring points with Ryan and Julio Jones, but the depth of the offense is questionable.

Atlanta's nightmare scenario: Roddy White's talent falls off a cliff, leaving Jones as the only legitimate receiver on the team. (Including tight ends.) Shanahan's run blocking scheme should help young running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but the risk here is that it takes this group too long to coalesce.

Training camp surprise


White underwent elbow surgery, while Reed is dealing with a significant groin injury. Freeman, meanwhile, has worked back to shape slowly from a hamstring injury. This is a top-heavy roster not particularly built to withstand injuries and they will need some injury luck to survive this season.

What we'll be saying in February


Quinn and Shanahan have this organization back on the right track.

Predicted finish: No. 2 in NFC South, No. 9 in NFC, No. 18 overall in Around the NFL's Power Poll

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