Articles on Free agency with a variety of speculation have circulated and a majority seem to take the stand that the Atlanta Falcons will not be big players outside their own nest, knowing the team is a stable power in the NFC, after 2012 produced another very good season and the big step of a playoff win so drastically needed. But when your so close (we all know Ten yards), then is not the thought to make one big splash at the chance to climb the last hurdle as overwhelming to that of the temptation documented in the Garden of Eden? If the apple that Falcon brass choose to pick is a defensive lineman then I say to the powers that guide this team – sin on. Since the draft may not produce a legit D-line presence immediately, and the dwellers in the house are good, but not the disruptive force Nolan’s defense needs, then Free agency is the only tree to go to.
I know there are budget issues, but a team can make adjustments on contracts, release some players and restructure things to accomplish the need. The need for defensive line help is to me the largest one this team has. Tony G , Turner, McClure will have a domino affect on the offensive situation, depending on what plays out the next couple of months, but the offense is the strong point to the team, and the draft may just fill any need on that side of the ball. I think the need for offensive line help can come by the draft also. Moves in the secondary, whatever Smith and company choose, will keep the unit as good of a pass defense as the birds have had since the Smith era. The emergence of Dent this past season and if Schiller is brought on board from the practice squad, puts the linebackers above many units in the NFL and still very young.
It’s the defensive line that needs the injection that can take us to the Bowl, because so much depends on that line. It’s that important to take that one splash in the market. Johnson from Cincy, Avril from Detroit, Branch from Seattle, and I wonder what Nolan thinks of Starks from Miami.?
The fact that Ray Edwards burnt us should not make us afraid of the fire. When you can stop the opponent then you give the high flying offense another chance to get points, and the offense can do that. Stopping the opponent can get your defense off the field and the opposition on – a scenario no coach would turn down. Stopping the opponent can only be done with a pass rush and a strong line against the run. Many will point to a slow developing offensive line or the poor rushing attack the Falcons had in 2012 as the area of most concern, but the defensive line to me was the weak link. The Atlanta Falcons lost a total of four games in 2012. In those four losses the opponent rushed well over a hundred yards. ( N.O-combo of Ivory / Ingram – 139 yards, CAR.- Newton alone for 116 yards, T.B – Martin ran for 142 yards, and in the close playoff loss to San Francisco, although we contained Kaepernick, his team rushed for 149 yards.)
Adding to the D-Line woes was the stat that in those four losses the defense recorded a total of three sacks on the opposing quarterback. When your not stopping the run and can’t get the quarterback you will lose, and the loss can be blamed on no other unit. But Atlanta lost only four times, so one splash may be all that’s needed. In the first half of the season the Falcon’s did not lose a game, and in six of the eight games the defense recorded three sacks and held the opposition to an average of 18 points a game. But in the second half of the season when all the losses occurred they recorded only one three sack game, and the opponents averaged almost twenty points a game, kept from being a little higher by a shut out against the no show Giants team that self destructed against the Dome presence. Considering Abraham our best pass rusher, his age, and being banged up, the second half stats show a need of high importance.
The first year under our coordinators was successful, and the system will even get better but I see the defensive line with a hole that needs to be filled, for if it does get better will make the whole defensive unit stronger and get the ball in the hands of our best weapons. Take note that three of the losses were against division rivals, teams with strong quarterbacks and rushing games, so there should not be any caution to a big splash of improvement that can keep the Birds atop the lofty perch of the NFC South. Nothing can keep good quarterbacks and rushing games in check like a good strong defensive line, and one big splash is worth the chance of improving an area that Atlanta could gain so much from. Beef up the Defensive line and the offense will do the rest.