1. All About the Ball
For the Falcons, it all comes down to one thing: the ball.
Atlanta has put a big emphasis on ball security this preseason, and it will certainly be at the forefront of the players and coaches' minds on Sunday. The Falcons had four turnovers when they faced Tampa Bay in November of 2015—a stat line that reflected the exact opposite of what head coach Dan Quinn expects from his team.
On defense, Quinn wants to his group create takeaways. Quinn's defensive scheme is centered around this notion, and it'll be imperative his unit disrupts the Buccaneers' high powered offense.
"It's going to be about the ball," Quinn said. "That's our No. 1. Our mindset to make great decisions with it, to go after it like crazy, ball-hawking defensively. On [special] teams, the same thing. When it's the return group, how do we own it? And then how do we go after it."
2. The Need for Speed
Head coach Dan Quinn has instilled a "Fast and Physical" mantra with his team, and the additions he and GM Thomas Dimitroff made to the roster this offseason show just that. The team is significantly faster and more physical this year, and Quinn wants to see it against the Buccaneers.
"We want to feel this energy we bring," Quinn said. "We are a fast team offensively, defensively and on teams. I want to feel that speed come to life."
How does Quinn measure that speed?
"Offensively, it'll be some explosive plays… when a guy makes another guy miss," Quinn said. "Defensively, it comes down to the elimination of explosive plays. The faster you play offensively; you have guys who can make long [plays]. And defensively, a guy may have not been in the right spot, but his teammate was hauling so much, that he made up for it. The ability to get explosive plays offensively, and the ability to eliminate them defensively, is a small indicator of that."
3. Win the Last Yard
From the day Quinn arrived in Flowery Branch, he's preached the importance of finishing. Obviously, the finish at the end of the game is of the most importance, but Quinn relays this message to every aspect of the game. Whether it be finishing a tackle or a block, he wants each player to embrace the mindset behind what it means to finish on all fronts.
"It's going to be about our finish," Quinn said. "The finish of the play, the finish of the half and the finish of the game. That last yard is going to be the difference where you are just straining and battling for it. It's having a relentless mindset to finish."