After his team finished 8-8 in its first season under coach Dan Quinn, Falcons owner Arthur Blank liked the progress that was made and didn’t want to disrupt things by jettisoning general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
“I think there is value in terms on continuity,” Blank said Friday. “Dan Quinn has developed a nice relationship with Thomas and (assistant general manager) Scott (Pioli) both, and I think that’s important for the future.”
Blank, after attending NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s state of the league address, discussed some of the team’s issues. He had not spoken to the media since the end of the season. He merely just issued a statement Jan. 8 that Dimitroff would be retained.
“At the end of every season we look at all of our operations and focus on the football,” Blank said. “The question during the offseason is how do we get better? Are there changes that we have to make to our coaching staff or to our personnel department? This year we did the same thing, again.”
The Falcons shuffled the coaching staff after wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie left to become Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.
Quinn hired former Dallas assistant coach Jerome Henderson as the passing-game coordinator (defense) and moved assistant head coach Raheem Morris to wide receivers to replace Robiskie.
“Coach Quinn, on the coaching the side, made some changes that he felt were correct,” Blank said. “In terms of personnel, he and I spent some times talking about his observations over the last year about both Thomas and Scott and the whole personnel department.”
After meeting with Quinn, Blank asked Dimitroff and Pioli to address the player-evaluation issues.
“I asked Thomas and Scott would they be able to or would they be willing to address every single position in their departments, again, objectively, candidly and transparently,” Blank said. “They have and we’ve made a number of changes including re-doing our entire pro personnel department. We are making major changes on the college side as well.”
The Falcons have moved two pro scouts over to the college scouting department. DeJuan Polk, formerly the pro personnel coordinator, and Bob Kronenberg, formerly a pro scout, are moving over to the college scouting department.
Lionel Vital, the former director of pro personnel, elected not to take a demotion and left the team.
The Falcons added former general managers Ruston Webster and Phil Emery as national scouts to help bolster the pro-personnel side because the team only has five draft picks in the upcoming draft.
In a non-football matter, Blank said he is pleased with the sale of premium seat licenses for the Falcons’ new stadium.
According to the figures obtained from the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the Falcons have sold 26,617 seat licenses for a total of $153.8 million as of Jan. 16. That includes 4,259 club seats for a total of $93.5 million and 22,358 non-club seats for $60.3 million.
Contracts for about 4,200 seat licenses were submitted in November and December, with about 4,000 of those for non-club seats, according to the latest GWCCA figures.
A 30-day lag in submitting contracts means current sales figures likely are slightly higher than the GWCCA numbers reflect.
“They are moving fine,” Blank said. “We are about where we thought we would be. We appreciated tremendously the support that we’ve (received) from our naming-rights partner Mercedes Benz, from our accounting partners, from our official partners and certainly from our fans mostly for their support of PSLs and the sales that we’ve had to date.”
Also, the Falcons are finalizing plans for their Super Bowl presentation to the NFL owners at a meeting May 23-25 in Charlotte, N.C.
“The bid that we put together is a very, very competitive one,” Blank said. “Not just because of the stadium, but because of where the stadium is located in downtown Atlanta.
“We have the largest aquarium in the world. The National Civil Rights Museum, the World of Coke, the kids’ museum and all kinds of great amenities and all of them are within walking distance. That’s a major plus for bringing the Super Bowl to Atlanta.”
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