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With less than a month to go until NFL training camps open, I thought it may be helpful to take a look at the Carolina Panthers southern rivals and start a dialogue on their offseason changes. 

First up, Atlanta Falcons. Here are the important bullet points of the Falcons offseason... 

COACHING

Atlanta has a new head coach. Those words should concern any Carolina Panthers fan who has paid attention to Ron Rivera's record against rookie head coaches. Adding insult to injury, the Falcons hired former Seattle DC Dan Quinn as Mike Smith's replacement at head coach. Quinn obviously has had success against the Panthers over the past two seasons. Panthers OC Mike Shula will have his work cut out for him. 

If Quinn can improve the Falcons defense in his first year, Atlanta could contend for the title in the NFC South. 

 

IN THE DRAFT

The Falcons addressed their need for defensive improvement in the first two rounds of the draft.

Falcons first round pick DE Vic Beasley should improve Atlanta's pass rush from day one. He was used mainly on the left side in Falcons workouts last month, but did switch to the right occasionally. Beasley's game is speed, how well the Panthers counter with Remmers and Oher remains to be seen. 

In the second round the Falcons selected CB Jalen Collins. This was a good value as many had Collins as a first round talent. Collins will most likely catch on quickly as he faces guys like Julio Jones in practice, helping him prepare to defense Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Collins was a good pick for the Falcons and should help them at depth initially, with Collins taking over a starting role later in the season. 

On the offensive side of the ball RB Tevin Coleman and WR (and Huddle favorite) WR Justin Hardy. Coleman could see increased playing time as the season progresses while Hardy looks to have already earned the #3 WR spot. 

Overall, Atlanta had a solid 2015 draft based on early reviews. 

 

FREE AGENCY

The Falcons released a few names Panthers fans were used to seeing, Harry Douglas and Steven Jackson the most notable. The loss of these two players were addressed nicely in the draft. Negative impact should be minimal. 

OLB Brooks Reed was added from the Texans and could be a real impact player for the Falcons. How much did he benefit from playing with JJ Watt? We will soon see. Reed will not be playing behind anyone of Watt's caliber anytime soon in Atlanta. 

The Falcons extended S Charles Godfrey which is excellent news for the Panthers. Godfrey's best days are well behind him.  

The Falcons signed a couple of new tight ends, Tony Moeaki and Jacob Tamme. Could they be an adequate long term replacement for Tony Gonzalez? Clearly, Toilolo last season was not.

 

OTHER TIDBITS

Apparently, the Falcons are trying to move QB Matt Ryan out of the pocket more often. This is an interesting development to keep your eyes on. If the Falcons can give a few looks a game of Ryan rolling out of the pocket to throw it could change how aggressive the Panthers pass rush can be. 

 

CONCLUSION

Like it or not, the Atlanta Falcons improved a good deal this offseason. Mike Smith was not a good head coach. This was obvious to anyone that watched "Hard Knocks" on HBO last year. Dan Quinn will bring a tougher more hard nosed attitude to the Falcons. 

What say you? 

 


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  • Pie 9
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Douglas and 2014 white > Hardy and 2015 White. 

Baker is not coming back so to me it looks like they are banking on Mathews improving for their offense to improve. 

I see nothing that will scare our d.

Does Quinn's defense depend on great large dbs? If so the fact that Godfrey was no sent packing is enough evidence they will suck, as usual, this year.

Given a couple of years of building a d while Julio is still great and Ryan is still solid they will compete. But a year removed from not winning a game outside nfc south?  I am not worried. 

 

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That's an honest look. They do seem improved but their offensive line is still a question mark. I remember hearing clamorings for Coleman. He could be a nice player. They could be tough but I still like our chances with our defense. But I always predict an even split with the division just because rivalries.

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The whole NFC south should improve with all 4 teams having franchise QB and with either top offense or defense.BTW Panthers will conquer the south again but this time with great deal of help from the Offense.

I don't think the Saints improved at all this offseason

  • Pie 3
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I don't think the Saints improved at all this offseason

Would agree here.  Bucs, Falcons and us I'd say have improved.  At the very best, the Saints are a push, if not a little worse.  They do still have Brees, but I expect some additional decline from him again this year.

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I don't agree that Mike Smith was a bad coach and this team will improve all that much. Mike was a above .500 coach most of his time there crippled by as bad GM. Quinn also is a big question because he had only been a DC for a short amount of time and it makes you wonder how well he will be with less talent.

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They had a solid draft, and I think Quinn will do well as a head coach. I'm not sold on their FA pick ups, and rebuilding is rebuilding. If I had to guess, I think they'll struggle early on, improve throughout the season, and then be a real pain in the ass next year.

this is basically how I feel as well. 

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There going to better because of the run game and OL ,just remember what they did to philly in playoffs , the good news is we excel at stopping the run

the 2015 Saints are much different than the 2013 Saints you are referencing there Sanjay. A lot changes in two seasons

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