citsalp Posted August 6, 2015 Share Posted August 6, 2015 Kalyn Kahler writes: Site: Atlanta Falcons’ Flowery Branch Headquarters, located northeast of Atlanta. What I Saw: Morning practice, Sunday, Aug. 2. Blue skies on a sunny morning for the Falcons first practice in full pads. Three things you need to know about the Falcons: 1. Almost nothing is the same in 2015. Atlanta has new head coach in former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and a new offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan. “Half the team probably wasn’t even here last year,” veteran tight end and free agent signee Jacob Tamme says. “I have no idea what happened last year. No one cares really.” That attitude is obvious at Flowery Branch and these 2015 Falcons will be an interesting team to follow. Says free agent signee linebacker Brooks Reed: “We’re all excited that we got all new staff. The staff is excited they are on new teams, there’s a lot of energy out here right now.” 2. Kyle Shanahan’s job got a whole lot easier. Finally, Shanahan has a fully groomed quarterback to work with in Matt Ryan. Shanahan’s escape from Cleveland with Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel led him to the promised land with Matt Ryan, a true franchise QB. Shanahan has developed a reputation for adjusting well to personnel — Robert Griffin III, Hoyer and Matt Schaub were all at their best under Shanahan’s tutelage. Just imagine what he can do with an established 3-time Pro Bowler like Ryan. “Kyle has been a chameleon,” Ryan says. “Everywhere he’s gone he’s had different guys to play with him and I think he has shown that he’ll adjust to whatever personnel they add. He’s open to trying to do some things that I like and the combination of the two has been really good.” 3. Running backs will be important again. Atlanta relied heavily on its passing game in previous seasons, but Shanahan will lead a more balanced offensive attack, with more emphasis on the ground game. Last season with the Browns, Shanahan coached Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell to average nearly four yards per carry. This could be the year the Falcons run game rebounds and the starting spot is Devonta Freeman’s to lose. Rookie third round pick Tevin Coleman is in the mix to battle Freeman in the team’s biggest position battle to watch this season. What will determine success or failure for the Falcons: Defense. Quinn In Seattle, Quinn used a simple playbook and he’ll work to remake the NFL’s worst defense in 2014. The Falcons need to improve on a unit that finished last against the pass and 21st against the run last season. Atlanta ranked 30th in the league with just 22 sacks last season. To fortify the pass rush, Falcons drafted Vic Beasley in the first round and added a couple veterans: linebackers Justin Durant and Brooks Reed and defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Tyson Jackson. Last season, Durant started at outside linebacker for the Cowboys and was on his way to the best season of his eight-year career when he tore his right biceps in a Week 8 loss to Washington. Durant led the Cowboys in tackles at the time of his injury, and even though he only played six games, he finished sixth on the team in tackles with 59 for the season. Clayborn comes to Atlanta from Tampa Bay, and he’s also returning from a biceps injury that sidelined him after Week 1 last season. When he’s been able to stay healthy, Clayborn has been effective (7.5 sacks as a rookie in 2011 and 5.5 in 2013). The Falcons will need Beasley to step up as a rookie and Durant to stay healthy to improve upon last year. Player I saw and really liked. Justin Hardy, wide receiver. Hardy, rookie fourth-round pick out of East Carolina University, has been hailed as a potential “secret weapon.” “Justin Hardy has done a great job coming in as a rookie,” Ryan says. “He’s a smart ballplayer. He had a ton of catches in college, so he knows how to get open.” At East Carolina, Hardy broke the FBS record for career receptions (387) and he posted three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. Hardy’s reliable catches showed during one-on-one drills, when Ryan threw him a deep ball that the rookie caught smoothly in stride down the sideline. Five dot-dot-dot observations about Atlanta. Quinn’s practice was efficient. Practice began at 10 a.m. and ended promptly at 11:46 a.m. Short and to-the-point, the Falcons wasted no time in the heat.. Desmond Trufant will be soon be among the Richard Sherman-type corners of the league. Trufant goes up against elite wideouts Roddy White and Julio Jones in practice everyday. This could be his first Pro Bowl year… Saw some competitive one-on-one battles between two first round draft picks Vic Beasley and Jake Matthews… Sad I couldn’t see Durant practice as he had a scheduled day off Sunday….The team’s slogan, “Rise Up,” seemed to be everywhere. The one name on the roster I’d forgotten about. Jacob Tamme, tight end. Falcons signed the eight-year veteran away from the Broncos, where he played a role in the 2013 record-setting offense. Tamme will battle last year’s starter Levine Toilolo and Tony Moeaki for a starting role as a pass-catching tight end. The thing I will remember about Flowery Branch: While writing this, the walls in the media workroom were vibrating with the loud bass beats of the Falcons hip hop-heavy playlist that blares outside during practice and in between meetings inside. Falcons hired homegrown DJ Jay Envy to bump some extremely loud hip hop music during the entire length of practice. A Pete Carroll tactic that Dan Quinn has carried over to Atlanta, the playlist energizes players and creates a game-like environment to facilitate better on-field communication. “It’s just another part of Quinn’s philosophy, trying to simulate a game-type atmosphere,” Tamme says. Gut feeling as I left camp: It doesn’t take much to win the NFC South, and Quinn’s changes on defense will make a much improved Falcons team. I think the have a good chance to take the NFC South crown. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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