Questions about expectations for the 2018 Falcons, Steve Sarkisian's offense, uniform changes and predicting win totals

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Welcome to Straight from the ’Beek! The 2018 preseason is finally in the books and the team will turn its attention toward the Philadelphia Eagles. As I wrote on Thursday night, we’re about to find out how good these Falcons really are. Meanwhile, you’ve got plenty of questions and I’ve got some answers for you. Just remember that all opinions here are mine unless otherwise noted.

So, let’s get to them.

R.J. from Bowling Green, OH
I'm very excited for this year and see big things coming from the Atlanta Falcons. I enjoy reading your blogs and threads, too. Do you think this will be Atlanta's best offense under Dan Quinn? And do you think Julio Jones will have a better season and get involved more?

Matt: Thanks for reading, R.J. Well, in order for this to be coach Dan Quinn’s best season here in Atlanta, the Falcons would have to make it to the Super Bowl – and win it this time. That’s the bar, right? Do I think this team is capable of winning a lot of games and getting into the playoffs? Yes, I do. But it’s a long season, and a lot can and will happen from week to week. I have the same thought process for Julio Jones. I think he’s the best receiver in the league – and thought that long when I was still working for CBSSports.com as the assistant managing editor and overseeing all of the NFL content. Jones was productive last season, but I think it’s possible that he could have less yards but score more touchdowns this season – and that would still be a good thing. Stay tuned.

Brandon from Waterloo, IN
What can we expect from coach Sarkisian’s offense in Year 2?

Matt: Well, virtually everyone is back on offense from 2017 and they’ve arguably gotten stronger along the offensive line and at receiver, Brandon. They’re healthy, too. And throw in the fact that Steve Sarkisian said he feels much more comfortable with the offense and personnel heading into this season – he said the difference is like “night and day” – and I’d say expectations are for the Falcons to be even better on that side of the ball in 2018. I’m not going to throw specific numbers out there, but I think they’ll be better – provided they stay healthy (knock on wood).

Drake from Brea, CA
How many games will the Falcons win this season?

Matt: OK, that’s a fair question to ask now that the preseason is over. I think we have a pretty good idea of what this team will look like when they take the field on Sept. 6. I think this can win 10 to 12 games this season, so let’s just go with 11-5 to answer your question.

Will from Dalton, GA
Hey Beek! Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Now that the preseason is all wrapped up and we’ve seen most of the roster get some field time, what do you think some of the biggest challenges are facing our guys this season? Any particular places we could keep our eyes on as the season progresses? Thanks, and Rise Up!

Matt: Hey, Will. I think the biggest challenge for this team is to be better on offense in the red zone. The Falcons need to do a better job scoring touchdowns and not coming away with field goals. I think the second area of focus for this team is (and will continue to be) creating more turnovers. The Falcons did a lot of good things in 2017, but they did not create enough turnovers. Those two areas – if they improve in them – will be difference-makers for this team.

Kameron from Grayson, GA
Who has been the most impressive player in the preseason?

Matt: I think that’s an easy one: Safety Damontae Kazee stood out in all three games he played in during the preseason. Kazee was aggressive making tackles and even forced a turnover. In short, he was a playmaker when he was on the field – and when that happens, it’s a game-changer. He made a game-high 11 tackles against the Jets, he picked off a pass against the Chiefs and was tied for the most tackles against the Jaguars. The Falcons have packages with Kazee on the field, but I think they’ll try to find more ways to get him in the game.

John from Perry, GA
When are the Falcons updating the uniforms?

Matt: There’s been no official word regarding any changes with the uniforms yet, John. Stay tuned on that front. As soon as I know or hear something official, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

Monique from Powder Springs, GA
I know the team is pretty solid, but could there be any surprising additions that could shake some things up?

Matt: Hey, Monique. While anything can happen, I’m not anticipating the Falcons making any sort of surprising moves. This team is talented and deep in some position groups. I think there may be some undrafted players make the final 53-man roster, but I’m not expecting the team to sign a veteran off another team at this point. Now, could it happen following the Eagles game? Maybe, but I think the team is always looking at improving the roster. That never stops.

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