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Blank says Falcons building contender to last

Forgive the Atlanta Falcons for not making a splash this offseason.

They didn't go after Mario Williams, the premier pass rusher who wound up with the Buffalo Bills. Their lone acquisitions -- linebacker Lofa Tatupu and guard Vince Manuwai -- aren't exactly household names.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank told, "my team is on the field."

"I went back and studied this over a long period of time in the NFL and studied the great teams," Blank said. "Consistency is very important in terms of leadership with coaches and players. The great teams, what they have done is they've kept their head coaches for a longer period of time, kept their general managers for a longer period of time and they identified early enough their core players and they extended them. The football staff has done a great job of identifying the players that can help us and keep them."

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Atlanta re-signed defensive end John Abraham, running back Jason Snelling and 35-year-old center Todd McClure (again, not earth-shattering), but consistency will be tested as Mike Smith enters his fifth season in Atlanta with two new coordinators. Dirk Koetter takes over on offense and Mike Nolan on defense.

Smith told the team pored over the roster to craft the offense for 2012: "We've spent a lot of time identifying the strengths and weakness of all our guys and what they do well and what they don't do well, and we want to put together an offense that accentuates their strengths."

The defense remains a concern, but this is a team one season removed from an NFC South crown. They've peaked early and crashed hard in January under Smith. Three playoff losses in four seasons suggest talent among missing parts, or, as Blank sees it: "It's a matter of who is delivering the message and whether the players are hearing it or not."

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