All About the Ball
The ball will continue to be an emphasis for head coach Dan Quinn's football team throughout the year, and the Falcons started the season on a positive note in this aspect when they finished plus-1 in the turnover margin on Sunday against the Buccaneers.
"That's our ball-hawking defense," Quinn said. "Where we can force multiple takeaways. Offensively, can we own it with just great decisions? That's when we throw it and when we run it. "
Oakland has a dynamic offense with QB Derek Carr at the helm, and if the Falcons can limit his production, the team should be in good shape. When Quinn says takeaways, he's not solely referring to interceptions, it's about attacking the ball and the elbow of the quarterback to force fumbles as well.
QB Matt Ryan and the rest of Atlanta's offense showed improvement in terms of ball security in Week 1, an area the unit struggled with in 2015. Quinn is looking for the same focus from that group in Oakland.
Explosive Play Ratio
It will be imperative for the Falcons' defense to limit the explosive plays Carr and Co. are capable of making. Quinn counted eight explosive plays by the Buccaneers' offense when he reviewed the tape of the loss to Tampa.
On the other hand, Atlanta's offense will look to continue to feature players, hoping to create favorable matchups that lead to more opportunities for players like WR Julio Jones and RB Devonta Freeman.
"Our offense, can we create those especially with the featured guys that we have,"
Quinn said. "That's Julio taking shots down the field, that's Freeman and Coleman coming out of the backfield. That's Sanu. The explosive plays, which are runs of 12 yards passes of 16 yards."
"Defensively, for [Tampa] to have eight was a lot for us. That part of our game- we know they have explosive players. So we have to eliminate those."
Play ATL football
It's all about the finish on Sunday. Quinn is looking for his team to compete for the full 60 minutes, and expects nothing short of that type of effort.
"That's guys who are relentless competitors who finish, that [includes] end of plays, end of halves and end of games," Quinn said.