2. Arthur Smith's late game coaching and decision making at quarterback
Two things can be true Arthur Smith is a good head coach who has gotten the most out of below-average rosters as well as clearly needing to improve in late game management and quarterback evaluation. What more did Smith need to see from Mariota last season and would he make the same mistake again with Desmond Ridder?
This goes hand in hand with the first concern for the Falcons last season with the playoffs on the line it was clear Mariota wasn't getting Atlanta there. Why not turn to your rookie quarterback and hope it inspired a late season run? Granted it wasn't a roster capable of a playoff win but it would have been a step forward that built confidence.
Smith cannot make the same mistake twice with this schedule and in this division, Atlanta has a playoff level roster. If Ridder isn't getting the job done you have an experienced starter in Taylor Heinicke. If Desmond struggles as Mariota did last season (which is hard to believe) Arthur has to be more decisive.
When it comes to late game management a lot of this has been on Atlanta's below-average rosters. However, the excuses for letting the leads slip away they have under Arthur the first two seasons are gone. It is time to get the job done and if the head coach can't his seat will grow warm.