After two preseason games, how is the Falcons’ 53-man roster shaping up?

by Cory Woodroof (@CoryWoodroof47)

We’re two games into preseason, and the Atlanta Falcons’ roster is beginning to take form. The majority of players have had solid camps, but inevitably, the roster will have to be trimmed down to 53 men. How does that final roster look as of right now? Let’s take a look.

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Five Things Learned from the Falcons Preseason Win Over the Browns

by Vince Phillips (@KentPhillipsV)

The Falcons’ offense looked a whole lot better than last week with a 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns. The first team looked unstoppable on the first drive—whether passing or running, they were firing on all cylinders. It also looked as if Devonta Freeman picked up right where he left off last season with a dazzling 19-yard TD run in the first quarter. He still runs with anger and is shifty as can be.

The receiving corps looks like it could be very good this year, with the potential to be as good as they were when Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Harry Douglas were at their respective peaks. The development of Justin Hardy and the ability of Mohamed Sanu should take more pressure off of Jones, which helps get everyone open.

Overall, the team played well but had some hiccups to be learned from, and we learned a little bit more of what to expect from the team this season. Here are the five most prominent things learned from preseason Week 2.

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Five Falcons Rising After Preseason Week 1

by Michael Aprile (@RiseUpReader)

The Falcons defeated Washington 23-17 on Thursday, unofficially ushering in the 2016 season and putting an end to the slow, seemingly-endless drought that is the NFL offseason. Seeing the red and black back on TV signaled the start of some beautiful pastimes: hope that this is the Falcons’ magic year, scorching #hottaeks about the Birds’ inevitable doom, and pumpkin spice flavored everything.

The team played well as a whole, but there were some individual Dirty Birds that flew higher than others, and they deserve some recognition and praise. Without further adieu, here are five Falcons who are rising up after the first preseason game of the 2016 season.

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Falcons 2016 Preseason: Week One Recap, a 23-17 Win

by Cory Woodroof (@corywoodroof47)

They say the proof is in the pudding—well, perhaps not the pre-seasoned pudding.

The Atlanta Falcons started out the 2016 season with a back alley rough-and-tumble rumble against Washington Thursday night (S.E. Hinton would disapprove), etching its first taste of victory, 23-17. Though, the victory, like any pre-season victory, is fool’s gold when it comes to evaluating how the team will perform come September.

Remember, the team looked as sharp as a tack against Tennessee and the New York Jets during pre-season weeks one and two in 2015 before getting a shellacking in Miami during week three. Then, came the five-win stretch, and then…well, you remember the rest.

The exuberantly scrappy game was marred with whistle blows and yellow flags, with the penalty count for both teams exceeding twenty. Despite the rulebook mishaps, the Falcons flashed some highs and highlighted some dusty spots as the team gets into game shape.

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Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview—Part Two: Offense/STs/Dwight Freeney

by Cory Woodroof (@CoryWoodroof47)

Hello, Falcon faithful!

It’s your intrepid Dirty Bird correspondent Cory Woodroof with our second look into the Atlanta Falcons’ 2016 Training Camp extravaganza.

Last week, we took a look at the Birds on defense—this week, we take a gander at the flock on the other side of the ball—offense.

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Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview—Part One: Defense

By Cory Woodroof (@CoryWoodroof47)

Greetings, Falcons fans!

It’s time to wake from our pigskin hibernation, slap on our finest Julio Jones shirseys and get ready for another season of Falcons football. Training camp has blossomed in Flowery Branch once more, and the Atlanta Falcons will be hoping to gel as a unit and figure out who goes where before pre-season play begins here in a few weeks.

In our two-part preview, we will first take a look at the Falcons defense.

The defensive-minded HC Dan Quinn will be working to get his unit just a little closer to what he had during his heyday in Seattle, and while the roster still may be an off-season away from accomplishing Quinn’s full vision, what the team has now personnel-wise is far more in line with what the coach likes—fast, physical players who can get after the quarterback and attack the ball.

Can this defense, which didn’t look too bad in 2015 compared to year’s past but still fell short of its potential, take strides in 2016 to be one of the better units in the league? Will they stay the same? Or, is it possible these Dirty Birds could take a step back? (Yes, I realize there are no other directions they could go—knock a guy for adding a little drama to the equation, why don’t you?)

So, let’s take a look at what we’ve got for the Dirty Bird defense in 2016.

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History Says Year Two of Kyle Shanahan Should Give Falcons Hope

by Bobby Holloway III

The job of a coach is to get the most out of their players, especially in the sport of football and in the NFL. That means capitalizing on strengths and figuring out what their favorite things to do are, while also taking their weaknesses and hiding them as much as possible.

Rewind to last season.

Watching the Atlanta Falcons’ offense last season was painful, partly because offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan struggled to figure out the strengths of his players (namely QB Matt Ryan). Ryan was often overwhelmed in Shanahan’s system, and there was clearly a dearth of talent on the offensive line and at wide receiver (outside of Julio Jones).

Even with the talented Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, along with an emerging Devonta Freeman, the Falcons only scored over 30 points twice the entire season (against Dallas and Houston). Atlanta finished last season seventh in total offense, sixth in passing, 19th in rushing and 15th in scoring offense—needless to say, the Falcons were very inconsistent. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with a history of improvement under Shanahan in his previous stops in Washington and Houston. 

History shows, in his second season with a team, Shanahan and his players are able to dramatically decrease turning the ball over, in addition to a slight increase in red-zone touchdowns. That means Ryan needs to show better decision making, and the skill players need to have better ball security. If that happens, the Falcons offense could be a sight to see.

The Falcons had a minus seven turnover margin in 2015, with Ryan committing 21 turnovers (16 interceptions and five fumbles lost), including an alarming six INT’s in the red zone—second to Eli Manning of the New York Giants (eight). With a season in this system under their belts, the Falcons—especially Ryan—should be more comfortable with the concepts and schemes taught by Shanahan.

The Falcons should be better offensively from a talent perspective with the additions of center Alex Mack and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, as well as the continued development of tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder. Rookie tight end Austin Hooper is expected to be an added weapon in the red zone.

History needs to be on the Falcons’ side this season, because this team can’t afford to kick field goals against the likes of Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, Phillip Rivers, Carson Palmer, the Denver Broncos defense, Drew Brees (twice), an emerging Jameis Winston (twice) and finally, the reigning league MVP in Cam Newton (twice) and expect to win. The defense will have their hands full facing those quarterbacks, so the offense can’t afford to have an off-game.

Let’s hope this promising history continues in Atlanta. If not, then Kyle Shanahan might be adding another travel sticker to his suitcase.

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