2. Improved play from the quarterback position
Marcus Mariota's struggles have been well covered and aren't completely on the veteran quarterback considering how long it took the head coach to make the needed change. Mariota's consistent turnovers and inability to deliver the ball to open receivers set up what was the ugliest season at the position in recent memory.
This a season after what was Matt Ryan's worst season in an Atlanta Falcons uniform clearly the quarterback position hasn't been close to expectations under Arthur Smith. Desmond Ridder started the final four games of the season and was a passing upgrade over Mariota but clearly wasn't playing to his potential.
For Atlanta to take a step forward this year Arthur Smith needs the best season he has gotten from the quarterback position during his three years in Atlanta. Ryan's poor season can be blamed on the offensive line often imploding and lacking one starting receiver but regardless of the explanation it has been two full seasons of poor play from the position.
Whether it is Ridder taking the expected step forward or Atlanta turning to Taylor Heinicke there must be a level of consistency in the passing game this team has lacked two seasons in.