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Preseason Watch List: NFC South

A detailed look at the key questions facing each team in the preseason

ATLANTA FALCONS

The Dan Quinn Era is off to an auspicious start, but the sting of the last game could derail the momentum. Quinn's Falcons won eight games in 2015 and followed that up with an 11-win regular season that culminated in a Super Bowl appearance. Whether last year's growth was offset by the horrific way the team choked away the Super Bowl remains to be seen, but the pieces are in place to contend. Matt Ryan shed his doubters and won the MVP, as the Falcons offense finished atop the standings (1st in points scored, 2nd in yards gained). Oddly, the Falcons success last year came in spite of a drop off defensively (27th in points allowed, 25th in yards) which is not what one would expect from Quinn and his defensive coaches. 

Camp Details:

  • When: 7/26 (Rookie/Veterans)
  • Where: Atlanta Falcons Training Facility (Flowery Branch, GA)
  • Open to Public: Yes (See Website) 

Preseason Game Schedule:

  • Aug 10 -- @Miami 7:00 pm EDT
  • Aug 20 -- @Pittsburgh 4:00 pm
  • Aug 26 -- Arizona 7:00 pm
  • Aug 31 -- Jacksonville 7:00 pm

What We're Watching:

  • Steve Sarkisian taking control of the offense -- Kyle Shanahan earned a head coaching job after the Falcons Super Bowl run, and the Falcons have handed the offense over to Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian is best known as the young USC head coach who got fired because of a drinking problem. Sarkisian is sober and left the University of Alabama to take the Falcons job. He is keeping the same system, playbook, and terminology in place, but needless to say will have a different approach to playcalling, especially as he's new on staff.
  • What will Marquand Manuel bring to the defense? -- As mentioned, the defense fell apart last year and Quinn promoted Marquand Manuel to coordinator after firing Richard Smith. Manuel will take over play-calling from Quinn, but don't expect major changes. Manuel has coached under Quinn his entire career.
  • Will Tevin Coleman's role increase? -- Coleman had 941 yards and 11 touchdowns last season as Devonta Freeman's counterpart; he ranked RB18 in standard leagues. The fact Coleman only played 353 snaps last year is shocking and hints at possible RB1 value if the Falcons increase Coleman's workload. 
  • Is Julio Jones healthy? -- Julio Jones had surgery to remove a bunion and should be healthy for the preseason. Jones is among the league's best receivers but has dealt with nagging injuries at times. If he's healthy, a bit of positive touchdown regression could easily turn Jones into the #1 overall fantasy commodity. 
  • Austin Hooper's maturation -- Hooper was a part-time contributor as a rookie. His 19 receptions for 271 yards and three touchdowns wasn't awe-inspiring, but it also shouldn't dissuade you from drafting him considering rookie tight ends rarely put up big numbers. Jacob Tamme is no longer on the roster, and offseason reports indicate Hooper is ready to take a leap forward. If Hooper earns consistent first team reps in camp, he's an ideal late round option.

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