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How the Falcons can rise up again

In the interest of a better, more productive NFL offseason, SB Nation’s NFL crew is putting on the general manager’s cap and fixing some of the league’s most moribund franchises, from free agents to marketing campaigns guaranteed not to backfire.

The Atlanta Falcons went 36-12 from 2010-2012, winning a couple NFC South Division titles along the way, and were roundly considered to be one of the better teams in the NFC during that stretch (among the elite, even). The Falcons took a nosedive in 2013, though, finishing a disappointing 4-12, and their 2014 season wasn’t a whole lot better.

Atlanta ended 2015 in an embarrassing loss at home to the Panthers in a game to decide the division champ. The Falcons finished 6-10. Head coach Mike Smith was fired after seven seasons, and they tabbed Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn as the successor. It’s now up to Quinn to rejuvenate and boost morale for a team that’s won 10 games in two seasons. With some key changes, the Falcons have the potential to get back to the top of their division in 2015, even if it’s a normal division again with *a* winning team.

McShay acknowledged that while either Mariota or Winston are possibilities here for the quarterback-needy Bucs, he sees Winston as having the edge based on his superior on-field performance. He believes the former Florida State quarterback is the most complete and pro-ready signal caller in the draft, and that he has separated himself from Mariota at this point.

Teams still have plenty of time to go through the vetting process in examining Winston’s off-field issues, but that doesn’t appear to be as big of an obstacle anymore. McShay heard that Winston “really impressed” teams during his interviews at the Combine, and that he blew them away with his pure football intelligence.

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