New Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has been on the job for a little over a week. He told us in his press conference he would begin the evaluation process of the current roster that same night.
We should be fortunate Quinn didn’t feel overwhelmed watching the video and escaped back to Seattle.
There is a lot of work to do, and forming opinions of his current roster is step one for Quinn. He must first see what he has, see who he wants to keep and identify the areas needing the most improvement.
It won’t take long for him to pinpoint those spots on the roster that need help. But it will be interesting to see who he prefers to keep. Don’t be surprised if a few players we may deem unimportant are kept around.
Coaches have the ego to believe they can make people better, so Quinn will likely see a few that he will believe he can make better. That’s good. There probably are a few players on the roster, particularly on defense, that may need someone else to believe in them.
Atlanta’s general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, has already said he prefers to keep free agent-to-be Sean Weatherspoon. This seems like a mistake since Weatherspoon has not been able to stay healthy. He’s played in only 47 games during his five-year career and only 20 games in the last three years. Perhaps they feel Weatherspoon will be cheap since he’s coming off an Achilles’ injury, but he should not be considered a centerpiece of the defense.
The linebacker position must be improved, whether Weatherspoon is re-signed or not. Paul Worrilow is decent, but the Falcons need to do better. Prince Shembo showed promise as a rookie, but they need a veteran that can come in and be a leader and a pass rusher.
Ah, yes, a pass rusher. That’s what the Falcons need. Atlanta has been in the bottom five in sacks each of the last three seasons. Former Statesboro High and UGA star Justin Houston is a free agent. He led the NFL in sacks with 22 last season. The Falcons should really back the truck up and let Houston write his own check.
But they’ll need more. Even if they sign a big free agent like Houston, they’ll need help in the draft. Kroy Biermann and Osi Umenyiora are free agents and they need to be allowed to walk away. It’s time to get players who can really get after the quarterback instead of having players that only talk about it or did it when they were younger.
And on offense, Quinn and his new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will have to take a close look at the line of scrimmage. With Shanahan’s zone blocking style, who will he want to keep? It might make it easier for a running back to be productive, but it might not be enough to make Steven Jackson young again. The Falcons need to cut bait with Jackson and get someone new to run the football or give Devonta Freeman a shot.
The Hawks changed their front office structure a few years ago, and look what GM Danny Ferry did to build a winner. The Braves switched general managers last fall and have been the most active they have been in decades. Now with a new coach on board and a new front office organizational chart for the Falcons, it’s their turn.
But for Quinn to know what he needs, he first has to see what he already has. Those decisions will be crucial to an Atlanta turnaround.
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quinn must start with self-scouting
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