FalconsInsider: Mike Smith was a tremendous head coach for the Falcons. He is the most successful coach in Atlanta's mediocre history. But the combination of injuries, bad personnel decisions from the front office and yes, a somewhat stale message led to his demise. Like any new head coach, Quinn has come in with a positive spirit and a contagious energy that has resonated through the team. Smith is a good coach, but he just hit his ceiling and a new voice was needed. It was a tough call to let him go, and he by no means deserves all the blame for two bad seasons following NFC Championship appearance. But Quinn has showed why a change was needed.
The Falcons had a big 20-3 halftime lead over Philadelphia and then came back. They were then down by 10 in the 4th quarter to the Giants and came back. It was two games they would not have won last season. Both the Eagles and Giants are obviously not living up to the expectations so far. Atlanta's defense held both teams to under what both were probably expecting to score. Julio Jones worked, as he continues to show why he's one of the best overall players in the NFL. There was little that didn't work in both games, with the exception of the injury to running back Tevin Coleman last week against New York, which could change plans moving forward.
Tamme did very well last week against the Giants and it was good to see a tight end produce something for the Falcons after last season. Tamme is not Tony Gonzalez, but he's not Levine Toilolo either. Toilolo tried to replace Gonzalez last year and failed. Hankerson looks like a great replacement for Harry Douglas so far. With Roddy White getting older by the day, Hankerson could have more of a larger role than Douglas had last year. Both Tamme and Hankerson are new targets for Matt Ryan, and they should not be ignored with Jones getting most o the attention.
The depth on the defensive line is the biggest change. Obviously, rookie Vic Beasley is off to a strong start. Second-year lineman Ra'Shede Hageman has turned the corner. Paul Soliai, Tyson Jackson and Jonathan Babineaux have been very solid. The linebackers, led by former Cowboys' linebacker Justin Durant, have been very good. They are putting more pressure on the quarterback, and it's assumed they will go right after Dallas' backup quarterback this week.
Hageman could be a star, but Desmond Trufant is the player to watch. The Giants avoided the cornerback last week and rightfully so. Trufant is a rising star in Atlanta's secondary. Also, safety Ricardo Allen is new to the position and the results are positive so far. Watch Atlanta's offensive line. It's brand new and so far it's been okay. But will Dallas' defense have success wearing it down? That could be a key Sunday.
I have been saying all week that Atlanta fans should not take Dallas for granted, regardless of which players can't play for them. But if the Falcons get home Sunday and say, "We lost in Dallas and they didn't have Romo and Bryant..." they will likely be very upset. If the Falcons are for real, they must take advantage of Dallas' troubles and win the road game. So the expectation is the Falcons will win. If Romo and Bryant were playing, they'd likely have little chance. But with them out, the Falcons do have a better chance.
Many thanks to Bill Shanks for his time, follow him on Twitter @BillShanks.