Essentially, the Falcons major offseason pickups were defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.
The offense will feature the same 10 of the 11 starters, who opened the 2011 season in Chicago. Center Todd McClure was out with a knee injury and Joe Hawley started for him.
The defense will feature 9 of 11 of the starters, who opened against the Bears.
Peria Jerry will start at defensive tackle for Corey Peters and Akeem Dent takes over at middle linebacker for Curtis Lofton.
So, the Falcons have decided to keep the talent that helped them post a 10-6 mark and early a wild-card berth last season.
Any improvements will have to come from the coaching and the development of the players already on hand.
Nolan and Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll were in the same positions last season with the Miami Dolphins.
On Sunday, they will be pitted against each other when the Falcons face the Chiefs at 1 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium.
“Brian is a very intelligent and great football coach,” Nolan said. “He’s got a real good mind. He’s had very good mentors as far as football goes. He’s been on the offensive and defensive side of the football. Brian is one of the sharpest coaches that I’ve been around. I was very impressed with him at Miami.”
Daboll will try to unleash running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis against the Falcons.
“I do think that players like to play for him because I think he tries to utilize all of the players’ strengths,” Nolan said. “They have a lot of explosive players. I guess his biggest problem is who is he going to give the ball too next because I’m sure has a lot of guys who want the ball.”
It will help that Nolan knows Matt Cassel from their AFC East days as foes.
“He’s a very competitive player,” Nolan said. “I think he’s tough. I think he’s smart. He’s always been a guy that you have to be really detailed and prepared for. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.”
The Falcons biggest player pick was the acquisition of cornerback Asante Samuel. The revamped secondary will get tested by Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
“He’s got very little playing time in the first game that he came back,” Nolan said. “Then last week got some more. I know him from the past. He’s a good player. He’s a big strong player that goes up for the ball. He’ll be a challenge to cover. He’s one of the league’s premier guys.”
The Chiefs will be without Tamba Hali, who’s been suspended by the league. They also have key injuries to free safety Kendrick Lewis and cornerback Brandon Flowers.
“Kansas City’s secondary has been a little beat up over the preseason,” Koetter said. “One of their best players, (Brandon) Flowers has not been out there at all. The free safety (Kendrick Lewis) has been out the last couple of weeks. They’re banged up. They definitely have some talented guys back there and they are very well coached.”
Despite the rash of injuries, the Falcons are preparing as if the injured players will make it to the field.
“That is part of the unknown going into this first game,” Koetter said. “We won’t see the first official injury report until (Wednesday.)The official guy that’s been ruled out (Tamba Hali) we can plan for that. Everybody else, we always plan like they are going to be there.”
The Falcons offensive line, which gave up 26 sacks and 84 quarterback hits last season, will have some tough matchups against Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson.
“They are two really good run stoppers in their 3-4 defense,” Koetter said. “Both guys are powerful. Both guys play with their hands. They are two-gap players and they are good at it. Kansas City has a good run defense.”