FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons' 2017 roster is expected to look very similar to the one that captured an NFC championship last season, but there have been some notable changes to the coaching staff.
The Falcons will have two new coordinators this fall. Steve Sarkisian was hired to fill the void at offensive coordinator after Kyle Shanahan's departure to become the head coach in San Francisco. The team decided to part ways with defensive coordinator Richard Smith after the season and promoted Marquand Manuel to that role.
It's unusual for a Super Bowl team to enter the following season with two different coordinators, but coach Dan Quinn expressed confidence in Sarkisian and Manuel during his pre-training camp press conference on Wednesday afternoon at the Falcons training complex.
"We're excited about where we're headed with the staff, we've spent a lot of time together this spring," Quinn said. "(We're creating) our own standard of how we want to hold each other accountable to make sure we're doing everything we can so that by the time the players get the ball on Sunday, they've gotten our best as well."
Although they may be in new roles, the Falcons' defensive staff still has plenty of familiar faces. Manuel is entering his third season with the team after spending the prior two as Atlanta's secondary coach. Jeff Ulbrich is also heading into his third year as linebackers coach, and Jerome Henderson will be back for his second season as the defensive passing game coordinator.
That experience and continuity is something that Quinn will rely upon in 2017. After an infusion of young, talented players in recent seasons, the popular opinion is that Atlanta's defense should be on the rise.
Manuel and his defensive assistants will be asked to help make that happen, and Quinn believes their familiarity with the team and each other is a major benefit.
"(Manuel and Ulbrich) really have a special role with me. I've known both of them a very long time, coached with them a long time. And over the last two years, those guys have coached together in 43 games and they know this system inside-out. So we really lean on their expertise.
"Jerome Henderson has such a unique role for us, because of his experience as a teacher. He played just about every position, defensively, that you can … He's one of the very best teachers that I've been around. We rely on him quite a bit: tackling, turnovers, technique stuff that we go over."
The offense faces a different set of challenges. After a record-setting year under Shanahan, the Falcons will look to generate the same level of offense with Sarkisian calling the shots.
Quinn has been open about the fact that he doesn't want to stray too far from what worked under his previous offensive coordinator. In 2016, Atlanta averaged nearly 34 points per game while Matt Ryan put together a career-best season and became the first NFL MVP in franchise history.
Sarkisian came to the Falcons after spending a season with Alabama as an offensive analyst. He and Quinn have both worked with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at various points in their careers, so there is some sense of familiarity between the two. Quinn explained on Monday that Sarkisian and he have talked about their approach and vision for the offense.
"It was important that we had a philosophy in place of things that we want to do, and that's important for Thomas and his group, too, to know what are we scouting for," Quinn said. "So the scheme wasn't going to change from coordinator to coordinator, it was going to stay very consistent.
"Now, that doesn't mean 'here's the playbook and you just run it in the same exact fashion.' Over this camp, I can't wait for Sark to see how to feature the players -- these running backs, the receivers, we've added even more tight ends into the mix. That part, I'm anxious for him to put his own flair on it. He understands the style, after being with me over the six months, of how we want to play."