Atlanta Falcons: It IS about the X’s and O’s

Atlanta Falcons helmets on the bench Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons helmets on the bench Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports /

This draft season has been particularly entertaining for Atlanta Falcons fans. Speculation surrounding prospects and what they will bring to the team is endless.

The Atlanta Falcons picks will indicate a desire to win now or that they are headed for a full rebuild. A quarterback, an offensive position player like Kyle Pitts or Penei Sewell, or a trade back all can be argued for and against in round one.

The later rounds of the draft will be equally exciting as the Falcons fill holes all over the roster with players who will hopefully someday become household names. While there a ton of options it is important to remember that the season is not won or lost this weekend.

The draft is not the end all be all of what this team will look like going forward.

The Atlanta Falcons have been mired in losing seasons for three years, bottoming out at four wins last year.

Typically, it is not smart to go through and say, “but what if”, when looking at an NFL season.

Every team can find random moments, the bounce of the ball, a tipped pass, lost footing, and think IF only that had not happened the team would have won.

The “What ifs” for the Falcons are a bit more exaggerated than most, however. The Falcons had so many strange losses that “Falconing” became synonymous with an unlikely loss and it was a running punch line at all the major networks.

It is easy to find AT LEAST three additional wins in 2020. For this reason, it is hard to view the Falcons as a team truly as bad as their 4-12 records indicate.

Keeping hope alive that 2021 will be a competitive season.

Arthur Smith, Dean Pees were the most important picks for the Atlanta Falcons

Regardless of who the team adds this week the biggest impact will be made by this coaching staff.

The new schemes the team will be bringing to the field in 2021 will be incredibly aggravating. Not because the Falcons will continue to lose, but because they will win and could have been doing so with the proper coaching staff.

Thinking that a four-win team can make a playoff run the following year is tough, a seven-win team is a much different story. The staffing changes alone have the potential to add three to four wins based solely on the approach on game day.

Take into account the third easiest strength of schedule for 2021 after one of the hardest in 2020 and a path to success is easy to follow.

It’s not about the X’s and O’s but the Jimmy’s and Joe’s

We have all seen the saying plenty of times, and it is undeniable that without talented players you can’t win. However, for the Falcons the X’s and O’s have been a huge problem for several years. There are absolutely holes on the roster, but that is the case for most teams in the league.

Terry Fontenot has done a commendable job already in free agency with limited cap space. Where teams gain an advantage is the scheme.

Dirk Koetter is regularly criticized for his outdated play-calling and unimaginative approach. Dan Quinn’s defense relies on the players to win and without the correct pieces is easily exploited. Falcons fans got used to hearing opposing players in post-game interviews saying they knew what was coming on offense and how to attack the defense. It’s hard to win when the opponent knows what is about to happen.

Arthur Smith is recognized as being innovative on offense, using the scheme and play design to create positive opportunities for his players. While also having the willingness to adjust what he does to who is available to him.

Dean Pees’ defense is all about confusing the opponent, being multiple in looks, and attacking from anywhere on the field. The Atlanta Falcons should look very different week to week depending on the opponent.

The coaching changes this offseason are being undervalued in the excitement of the draft but by the time training camp comes around excitement should be through the roof.

While ultimately the players are the ones that will have to execute, having a schematic advantage over your opponent is key. The Falcons have had plenty of talented players on this team for years and have failed to capitalize.

The ability of this coaching staff to get the most out of the players will be the true deciding factor on the success of this team going forward.

Whether the Falcons take a quarterback, Kyle Pitts, or someone else it will come down to Arthur Smith and Dean Pees to put them in a position to succeed.

Enjoy the draft, be excited about your favorite players and the direction of the league but remember, there is a lot more work to be done for the Atlanta Falcons.

Next. Grading defense, special teams positions before draft. dark