Super Bowl LI: How these Atlanta Falcons were built

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Defensive coordinator Richard Smith is being replaced while defensive line coach Bryan Cox is being let go by the team, a team source informed of the moves told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport on Wednesday. Smith could stay with the Falcons in an advisory role, Rapoport reported.

In addition, the team is expected to promote from within for the defensive coordinator job. Defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel and linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich are two potential candidates for the position, Rapoport reported.

“Rich has been so important to our businesses and Atlanta’s growth for many years. We are thrilled to extend his contract with the Falcons and AMB Sports & Entertainment,” AMB Group, LLC, chief executive officer Steve Cannon said in a statement. “He has been instrumental in the success of the Atlanta Falcons on and off the field and has played a very important role in making Mercedes-Benz Stadium a reality, and in bringing Major League Soccer to Atlanta. Rich is a great champion of our core values and will continue to be a strong leader in our organization and community for years to come.”

In addition to his role with the Falcons, where he’s spent the previous 13 years, McKay has also been a key member of the NFL Competition Committee for 23 years, serving as chairman since 2011. He was suspended from his competition committee role for nearly five months in 2015 after a league investigation found the Falcons used fake crowd noise during games at the Georgia Dome in 2013 and 2014.Mike Singletary

Dimitroff wound up keeping his gig with reduced power. New coach Dan Quinn was given control of the 53-man roster and reported directly to Blank. Scott Pioli, Dimitroff’s close friend, assumed greater responsibility with the NFL draft and pro scouting. Dimitroff’s status remained precarious after Quinn piloted the Falcons to an 8-8 season in 2015, requiring Blank to pen a statement after the season simply to say Dimitroff wasn’t getting fired. His excellent working relationship with Quinn was cited as the primary reason. But the team’s recent drafts should have been.

The 2016 Falcons proved once again how quickly NFL teams can hashtag rise up with a few good drafts, especially when a franchise quarterback is in place. Only six current starters were on the team in 2013. Dimitroff and cheap jerseys and Pioli unearthed 10 starters in the last three drafts, highlighted by Pro Bowl running back , Pro Bowl linebacker Vic Beasley and left tackle Jake Matthews. Nearly half of Atlanta’s roster, 22 players on the active roster, were added to the team this season. That includes four rookie starters selected in the first four rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Fast-forward to today, and there are no concerns about the need for football to show the rest of the world what is right with Atlanta. If anything, the Falcons are accentuating what locals have seen blossoming for years. Even as quarterback Michael Vick excited the NFL with his play-making in the early 2000s, artists like Usher, Outkast and T.I. already were thrilling fans across the world. Today, Atlanta is home to some of the hottest music and television shows (FX’s “Atlanta” and Bravo’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta”), while movie producer Tyler Perry launched his multimedia empire in this very town.

That type of success makes the natives even prouder. “I went to the school on the east side, south side [and] stayed in at least 13 different residences growing up, so I’m super-Atlanta, super-excited about the trajectory of the city,” rapper 2 Chainz said. “Not just the new stadium, but the athletic impression that we are leaving on just history, period. I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m glad to see Atlanta growing. I’m glad to see us continue to hold the torch musically and in entertainment and being the driving force and the leader behind trend-setting. I just really feel like Atlanta has a lot to offer.”

It was certainly different Sunday, with Matt Ryan just barely outdueling in the season’s best quarterback matchup. Ryan, playing with a banged-up Julio Jones and without Jacob Tamme (who injured his shoulder early in the game), completed 28 of 35 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Most critically, he did not throw an interception, even as Falcons fans covered their eyes on that game-winning drive, after Rodgers’ fourth touchdown pass of the day (and a successful two-point conversion) had given a six-point lead with less than four minutes remaining. A soft team would have stumbled here, maybe Ryan would have had another turnover. It would have been so easy to let this one slip away, too.

During the offseason, the Falcons worked with Navy Seals on a program that asks the participants how they can get one percent better. On the day after games, the Falcons have “tell the truth” Mondays in which they go through, with excruciating candor, things they did well and things they have to work on. Quinn begins the meetings by telling his players to talk to the person next to them and ask them what they can do to get better. This week, one of the problems was that the defense did not communicate well against San Diego, and so, Quinn said, rookie linebacker Deion Jones stated he would improve in this area. He did it all week, Quinn said, and he did it Sunday. There were bad plays on Sunday, certainly — a defense that gives up 32 points at home is still one to worry about, and the penalties were there, too — but even in the dark place that Quinn said his team was in after those two losses, the coach tries to reach for the other side.