The Falcons have strung together consecutive losing seasons (7-9 each), and fans started to stay away from games. But Blank elected to retain coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff.
“Part of that, obviously, is that we are going to have produce a different set of results on the field,” Blank said. “That’s definitely been a factor. So, I’m optimistic that we can do that this coming year based on a variety things. All the things that characterized the turnaround of the second half of the season are things that I believe can carry forward to next year.”
The Falcons, who are bracing for some veteran cuts and for some players to leave via free agency, will attempt to improve mostly through draft.
» MORE: See all of Dimitroff's 86 Falcons picks
“I think we are in a good position in the draft,” Blank said. “We’ll have three picks in the first two rounds, and we’ll be appropriately active in free agency. But I think primarily it is going to be improvements through the draft. We’ll see how that shapes up.”
Blank is fine with the fan experience at the stadium, but not with the football team’s performance.
“The product on the field has to be a competitive product,” Blank said. “We’re working on … we think we can achieve an even higher degree of success this coming year.”
Dimitroff’s return was not connected with Quinn’s return.
“They work together, so they are connected that way,” Blank said. “You always want a head coach and general manager to work together. But they are not connected in any way, shape or form beyond that.
“We’ll continue to look at each one of them this year. Hopefully the performance will be a continuation of the second half of last year and not what we saw in the first half of the season.”
The Falcons have started the process of re-tooling the roster.
“We’ve gone through the roster evaluations,” Blank said. “They are having draft meetings as we speak. Dan has been heavily engaged, and I’m excited to have Rich McKay in that mix as well, working with Thomas and working with coach Quinn.
“I believe that will be helpful. ... His knowledge and expertise will be an additional benefit to both the coach as well as Thomas.”
Blank is putting a lot of stock in the team’s second-half performance when they went 6-2 after starting the season 1-7.
“That’s the key, maintaining the second half of the year being typical of what we want to see going forward,” Blank said. “If we were 6-2 for every half of the year, we’d be thrilled. We’d be 12-4. That would be an incredible record if we did it over a long period of time.”
The Falcons don’t appear to be headed for an overhaul of the roster.
“That tells you that their roster is basically really good,” Blank said. “Not perfect. It needs to be worked on in certain areas. But the coaches really know what to do. They have connected with the players. The players understand the schemes and are performing now. I’m optimistic looking at our team for this coming year and the ability to become competitive.”
In the past, Blank has tabbed certain players — Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett — as “Falcons for life.”
He didn’t use that term when asked about tight end Austin Hooper, who’s set to become a free agent.
“I spoke with Thomas the other day,” Blank said. “All of the players that are free agents that we have, we’ve been in touch with all of their agents. (We’ve) had discussions with all of their agents. We said that post-Super Bowl we’ll lock down on this and end up making serious decisions about a number of these players. We’ll see where we end up on that.”
Subscribe to "The Bow Tie Chronicles" podcast with the AJC's D. Orlando Ledbetter on iTunes or on the new AJC sports podcasts page.