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  1. How the Falcons have built their offense by position from 2015-2018 There have been notable trends that will likely hold up again this year. By Dave Choate Jun 24, 2019, 12:00pm EDT Dan Quinn has not been overly involved in the offense since arriving in Atlanta, and yet the offenses he’s presided over have tended to be built in a particular way, at least when it comes to the number of players at key positions. The Falcons of this particular era have sported some good-to-great offenses, and they’ve typically done it on the back of a robust corps of receivers, a tight but multi-functional group of tight ends, and a nice 1-2-3 punch at running back. The offensive lines have been a real mixed bag over that time, but the Falcons have tended to roll four deep with reserves. Let’s take a look at how the initial 53 man roster has tended to break down on offense. You’ll notice the trends I mention above hold up quite well. Falcons Offense Building 2015-2018 Year QBs RBs FBs WRs TEs OTs OGs OCs 2015 2 3 1 7 2 4 3 2 2016 2 3 1 6 4 3 5 1 2017 2 4 1 6 3 4 4 1 2018 2 3 1 6 3 4 4 1 The Falcons have had two quarterbacks, one fullback, and at least six wide receivers every season under Quinn, even though they’ve had two offensive coordinators. It’s fair to assume they’ll do much the same this year, because they never keep three QBs, they’ll have at least a nominal fullback in Luke Stocker, and they have five established wide receivers and interesting rookie Marcus Green to work with. From there things have fluctuated a bit more, but the team has always held on to nine offensive linemen regardless of the exact configuration, and aside from 2015 they’ve always carried three tight ends. The twist here is that Dirk Koetter is now in charge of the offense, and he is not necessarily going to have the same philosophy as Kyle Shanahan and Steve Sarkisian. The biggest change in my eyes is likely to be a possible reduction in the number of wide receivers and certainly at fullback in favor of tight end and running back, but things should still shake out pretty close to this when all is said and done. Koetter kept four tight ends, four running backs and no fullbacks in 2018 with the Bucs, though he did hold on to six receivers. In light of that the trends above and our expectations for Koetter, here’s an early crack at projecting who will make the initial 53 man on offense. This would give the Falcons 25 guys on that side of the ball, which would leave them room for 25 on defense as well. QB: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub RB: Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, Kenjon Barner WR: Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, Marcus Green TE: Austin Hooper, Luke Stocker, Eric Saubert, Logan Paulsen OT: Jake Matthews, Kaleb McGary, Ty Sambrailo, Matt Gono OG: Chris Lindstrom, James Carpenter, Jamon Brown, Wes Schweitzer OC: Alex Mack Emphasis mine. There were no worthy RBs at TB in 2018.
  2. Don't know how to eliminate the spaces. Deal. Here is the link: One of the most crushing blows the Falcons have been deal this season have been in the form of injuries to Deion Jones, Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, and the short-term ailment for Grady Jarrett, whose absence was keenly felt. The only upside, if you can call it that, has been the opportunity afforded to young defenders in the wake of those injuries. Duke Riley hasn’t exactly thrived—he has been better in more limited snaps the last two weeks than he was as a full-time starter—but we’ve seen Foye Oluokun show some promise in a more expanded role. Damontae Kazee has been solid-to-excellent depending on the game in his new role as the team’s full-time free safety, while Deadrin Senat has been extremely solid in the opportunities he’s received. That’s no small thing for a Falcons team that has some tough decisions coming up. The Falcons will bring back Grady Jarrett but still are searching for a nominal full-time starter next to him, especially after 2019 when Jack Crawford’s contract is up. They’ll be bringing back Ricardo Allen slowly and could use all the impact players they can find in the secondary, to put it mildly. And they aren’t locks to bring back De’Vondre Campbell and look quite thin at linebacker if that happens. What kind of roles can they reasonably expect when everyone’s healthy next year, though? Deadrin Senat: Rotational defensive tackle Senat’s a relatively easy projection. The Falcons already like his run-stopping acumen, and Terrell McClain won’t be in Atlanta in 2019 to get in his way. Jack Crawford is likely to remain as the team’s best pass rushing option, leaving Senat with an early down role in his second season unless he takes a big step forward in terms of chasing after quarterbacks. He should have no competition for that role, though, as the Falcons are much more likely to promote Justin Zimmer or bring in a late round draft choice than to sign a nominal third defensive tackle. Foye Oluokun: Starting weakside linebacker Atlanta uses three linebackers pretty sparingly, and if De’Vondre Campbell returns or the team invests a high draft pick in 2018, Oluokun isn’t going to have a ton of playing time. But I have little doubt he’ll go into the year as the team’s nominal starter at the position, given that the coaching staff has been in love with him since he was drafted and he’s outplaying Duke Riley in an expanded role at the moment. The team has too many holes to plug to draft more competition on the weakside, methinks. There’s a small chance Oluokun could be in play on the strong side as Campbell’s replacement, but that’ll depend on how far he comes and whether Riley can show the team more the rest of the way. Once Deion Jones returns, he’s in for reduced playing time this year, so he’ll need to keep making his case over the next couple of weeks. Damontae Kazee: Starting free safety, then third safety The chances of Ricardo Allen coming back completely healthy and ready to assume his starting role in Week 1 seems a little slim at the moment, and I’m projecting Kazee will start the year as the team’s, well, starter. He’s certainly done enough to merit a long look there, though I anticipate he’ll go back to being the team’s third safety once Allen is totally healthy. His physicality and playmaking ability should ensure that he finds his way on the field regardless, as Dan Quinn intended before the injury train hit the Falcons full force. While we’re going to have to endure more growing pains the rest of the way for all three players, it’s very possible that they’ll prove to be a major part of the future on defense here in Atlanta. We’ve suggested time and time again that the Falcons cannot hope to be a contender for very long if they don’t continue to hit on draft choices, and getting three starting-caliber players out of a third rounder, fifth rounder and sixth rounder would go a long way toward keeping this team relevant in the years to come.