FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes the Falcons looking to add some new wrinkles on offense and several rule changes that occurred during the NFL owners meetings.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*AJC: *Falcons set to add new wrinkles on offense
The NFL owner meeting is underway this week and Falcons head coach Dan Quinn sat down with reporters during the head coaches breakfast to discuss a variety of topics. Among the things mentioned was Julio Jones' ability to participate in offseason programs being beneficial to the team, as well as some new wrinkles that could be thrown in on offense.
"I didn't sit in on all of the meetings over at Georgia Tech," Quinn said, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I'm not going to the triple-option or anything with Matt Ryan, but there will definitely be some new parts to this offense this year.
"The style will be similar, but there will definitely be some new wrinkles. The style, meaning the way that we want to run the ball. The way that we want to come off the ball. At the end of it, can we execute better?"
While the perception is that the Falcons took a big step back offensively in their first season under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, that might be bit of an overstatement. Atlanta averaged 364.8 yards per game, which was eighth-best in the league, and it had the league's best third-down offense, converting 44.67 percent of its attempts.
Although the Falcons moved the ball well last season, they struggled to punch it into the end zone on a consistent basis. Their 50 percent touchdown conversion rate inside of the red zone ranked 23rd in the league, and fans often complained about Jones ending with just three touchdown catches.
Quinn believes having Jones healthy this offseason will go a long way in keeping the offensive chemistry sharp heading into the season. He also said the red zone will be an area of focus for the Falcons heading into the fall.
"The red zone scoring in general will be something that we'll be attacking this offseason," Quinn said, per Ledbetter. "The way that we frame it is: what do we need to stop doing? What we need to start doing? What do we need to do differently? Something is going to fall under those three guidelines."
Here are more articles for Falcons fans:
BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: NFL teams unanimously approve simplified catch rule
The subject of much scrutiny in recent seasons, the NFL's catch rule was among the most notable topics of discussion at this year's owners meetings. After several incidents where it appeared a player caught a pass only to have that decision be overturned after further review, the league called for a simpler catch rule to be implemented.
Earlier this week, the Competition Committee's recommendation for the simplified language pertaining to the catch rule was announced. The new rules that define a catch include:
The biggest change to the rule appears to be the elimination of the "going-to-the-ground" aspect, which meant a receiver who was falling to the ground at the time the catch was made must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of the catch.
Here are some more articles from around the league:
- ESPN: Manziel's football drought is over, but it's a long road back to NFL
- Sports Illustrated: *The latest on Watson, Luck from owners meetings*
- CBS Sports: New targeting rule could lead to more ejections
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