Early Bird Report: Falcons' success still dependent on players

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes recognition for Calvin Ridley’s stellar rookie year and the importance of Atlanta’s players moving forward despite coaching changes.

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Calvin Ridley put together a very strong first NFL season for the Falcons, catching 64 passes for 821 yards and a franchise rookie record 10 touchdowns.

His 10 touchdowns were the most among all NFL rookie wide receivers, so it’s little surprise that Ridley earned himself a spot on ESPN’s All-Rookie team for the 2018 season.

“Six of Ridley’s 10 receiving touchdowns this season came over the course of the season’s first month, but the guy put the ball in the end zone more than any other rookie wideout,” ESPN notes.

The other rookie wide receiver to be named to the list was DJ Moore, who the Panthers selected just two spots ahead of Ridley in the 2018 NFL Draft. This is a blooming NFC South rivalry that should be fun to watch for years to come.

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:

AJC: New coaches may help, but it’s still about the players

With new offensive and special teams coordinators in place, and with Dan Quinn taking over the defensive coordinator role, the Falcons will have a new coaching structure in place heading into the 2019 season. But how much will that actually impact the on-field product? While it is certain to have a decent impact, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Cunningham believes it ultimately still comes down to the players.

“Each of the new coaches has a long, solid track record of success in the NFL,” Cunningham writes. “Two of them are former NFL head coaches. One of them is the head coach, and Quinn has the best track record of them all. 

“There may be something to adding new voices and ideas, as Quinn said. I say it won’t mean much if the Falcons don’t have the right players to put their big plans into action. Right now, they don’t.” 

To read the rest of Cunningham’s piece, click here.

ESPN: Sources: Sarkisian turns down Cardinals to rejoin Alabama

After spending two seasons at the NFL level, it appears Steve Sarkisian is heading back to the college ranks. According to a report by ESPN’s Dianna Russini, Sarkisian turned down an offer to become the Arizona Cardinals’ offensive coordinator to accept the same role with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Sarkisian spent one season with the Crimson Tide prior to joining the Falcons after their 2016 Super Bowl run. He took over the role of offensive coordinator for Alabama in the 2016 national championship game after Lane Kiffin accepted the head coaching position at Florida Atlantic.

To read the rest of ESPN’s report, click here.

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