There are certain fleeting concerns about the Falcons here in the infancy of training camp. Such as, whose idea was it to practice Wednesday in the rainy gloom while a perfectly good indoor facility stood as empty as the Cleveland Browns’ trophy case (this millennium).
“I’m probably the only one happy it was raining,” said the man in charge, Dan Quinn. Call it some new-product testing under less than ideal conditions. Hey, you don’t run crash tests inside the Ritz.
Then there are those nagging uncertainties that will follow this promising bunch into a new season – yes, even if by comparison a wedding reception is less hopeful than this particular camp.
Here are the five leading worries – and I’m sure you have your own – that I dredged up from the darkest pit of a sportswriter’s soul:
The Sark attack
If we have learned nothing else about the career arc of new offensive coordinators, it’s that the second season is big. That’s when all the horns in the band are supposed to be playing together. And this band has a heckuva brass section.
Steve Sarkisian will have as much attention on him this season as anyone wearing armor. He gets something of a pass for his first go-round with Matt Ryan and the gang.
Still, much like the last pass of the 2017 season, this one’s also incomplete.
There is no reason whatsoever to expect that Julio Jones will be lessened by his little contract kerfuffle, or his absence from a camp so minor that its first name includes “mini.”
Why, in fact, it became something of a game standing off to the side watching practice Wednesday looking for each Jones drop or mis-timed pattern – yes, there were some – and exclaiming: Oh, see what happens when you miss minicamp! He’s done!
I’d like to say that’s the most ridiculous thing that happens in the little marked-off media corral at camp, but it really isn’t.
Remember, though, that the universe is big on striking a balance. When a receiver who has made it a mission to be as low-maintenance as a good hammer suddenly becomes sports-talk fodder, can a dose of humility be far behind?
Especially for a receiver closing in on his 30th birthday.
The company they keep
The Brotherhood does not operate in a vacuum. As much as the Falcons have made themselves into a popular playoff pick, they also are working in a division that produced two other playoff teams last year. A very good division – Tampa Bay notwithstanding – will spend a good part of the year eating its own.
I worry that it’s just very easy to become tapas in the NFC South.
In Quinn’s fast and furious world, who’s going to do the grunt work? The Falcons lost the likes of Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn and are auditioning for replacements that might occupy blockers while all the speed hunts down the opposition. And hopefully produces a few more turnovers along the way.
And on the offensive line, we’ll need to see some steady guard play to believe it. They remained ridiculously healthy during the Super Bowl season – and thus have used up that favor for a generation.
When things look too good, that’s when it’s really time to worry
Are you this way, too? Do you distrust success? Do you never bet chalk? Are you overly suspicious of sure things and sunny forecasts?
I find it to be a real character flaw. I’m trying to work on that.
In keeping with that, I’m really on edge now, because it is so darn difficult to come up with five things to really worry about concerning this team at this time.
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