No knock, but Falcons want focus on field

As we told you a little bit ago, a league source said the Atlanta Falcons have declined an opportunity to be the featured team on HBO’s “Hard Knocks" this summer.

Now, let’s delve into this a little deeper so we can understand why the Falcons made this decision.

First off, the Falcons explored the possibility of being the featured team very thoroughly. There was intrigue throughout their building and the franchise fully realized that appearing on the show during training camp could help greatly in raising the national profile of a franchise that hasn’t been all that successful until recent years. Virtually every department in the building was involved in discussions about whether the Falcons should accept the invitation.

This wasn’t an easy decision, and the Falcons did have serious interest. In the end, though, they declined. The decision should not be viewed as a knock on the show, the source said. The Falcons saw plenty of positives, but they ultimately decided it was in their best interest – and in the best interest of their fans – to turn it down.

The Falcons want all their focus for the 2012 season to be solely on the field. This makes plenty of sense. The Falcons are facing a critical season. They’ve had four straight winning seasons, but haven’t won a playoff game in that span. After losing to the New York Giants in a January playoff game, owner Arthur Blank, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith pledged to do everything in their power to get the team to the next level.

Instead of making a major splash in free agency, the Falcons chose mostly to retain their own players. There’s a strong belief in the building that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan will bring a change in schemes and attitude that could take the Falcons a step forward.

As intriguing as “Hard Knocks’’ was from a business and marketing standpoint, the decision ultimately came down to football. The Falcons didn’t want to put added pressure on Koetter and Nolan as they tried to install new schemes. Although the Falcons generally are a quiet team, they did recognize some potential dangers in opening all their doors to cameras for training camp. Receiver Roddy White can be outspoken and flamboyant at times and having cameras on him at all times could have presented the potential for controversy. There are a few other players on the roster that also could have brought some risk if the Falcons had decided to open things up.

In the end, the Falcons decided to go about their business quietly. I think that sends a pretty strong message. They’re focused totally on taking the next step and they want to do it by doing everything the right way on the football field. “Hard Knocks" might have brought them attention in the short term.

But the best and purest way the Falcons can enhance their national profile is going out and winning games, especially playoff games.