It's steady as she goes under coach Mike Smith, whose 56-24 record over his first five years is second only to George Seifert's 62-18 in NFL history. While there's no change in on-field leadership, the Falcons will have to address their own key free agents while adding young talent on defense to take advantage of a Super Bowl window that might not be propped open for longer than another season or two.
Biggest Free Agents
»*CB Brent Grimes:* Assigned the franchise tag last offseason, Grimes played just one game before blowing out his Achilles tendon. He's a candidate for a one-year, "make good" contract to rebuild his value at age 30.
What they need
It all starts with a defensive backbone. Quite simply the Falcons haven't been effective in stopping the run, particularly against mobile quarterbacks such as Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. The defensive line could use not only a designated run-stuffer, but also a talented young pass rusher to help fill the void left by John Abraham's release. The biggest offensive needs are re-signing Baker and finding a successor to the released Michael Turner as Jacquizz Rodgers' running back partner.
Offseason crystal ball
The secondary could be a priority with Moore slated to hit free agency and cornerback Dunta Robinson sent packing. Look for the defensive line to be addressed early in the draft. Entering a contract year, Ryan is a candidate for a lucrative contract extension after the Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flaccoset the price in the quarterback market.