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Falcons GM doesn't expect a lot of 'growing pains' under Steve Sarkisian-led offense


Since taking over as Atlanta's offensive coordinator in February, Steve Sarkisian has received nothing but glowing reviews from his players, head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

Sarkisian inherits one of the NFL's most prolific offenses that returns nine of 11 starters.

The Falcons' offense finished the 2016 season scoring 540 points, which tied the 2000 St. Louis Rams for the seventh-most points scored in a single season. Atlanta's final regular-season point total was 71 points more than any other team accumulated last season and 176 points above the league average.

And while taking the reins of an offense loaded with so much talent might seem like a luxury, gelling with each player is something that takes a significant amount of time and dedication, and Sarkisian is succeeding in every aspect of that.

"We knew that we were going bring a guy in that has a lot of experience, can communicate well, he's hit it off very, very well with Matt [Ryan] from a communication standpoint," Dimitroff said of Sarkisian as a guest on Adam Schein’s radio show. "Sark came in knowing he wasn't going to change much on this offense – he may change some terminology here and there, some general ideas. That was important for us."

Quinn has certain expectations in regards to how he wants his offense to play in terms of the run/pass balance. Atlanta threw on 57.7 percent of their plays and ran the ball on 42.3 percent of plays -- the 11th highest run percentage in the NFL in 2016.

Pro Bowl running back Devonta Freeman has been getting to know his new offensive coordinator over the past month and commended his "flexible" coaching style.

"The thing I like about him is he's very flexible with every guy on the team -- the whole coaching staff is," Freeman said of Sarkisian. "I definitely think he's going to put us in the best situation to have success."

In addition to Sarkisian's strong communication skills, his familiarity with the wide-zone scheme and creativity as a player caller makes Dimitroff believe growing pains are not to be expected.

"To have a guy who's creative, who's going to throw the ball deep to Julio when we need him too and get creative with our running attack and such, I'm really impressed with what I've seen so far," Dimitroff said. "Already talking to Matt and Sark, watching how they interact on the field its really impressive. Yes, of course there will be growing, [but] I don't think there is going to be growing pains."

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