The coaching is in place, all that’s left is to get quality talent on the lines.
At the conclusion of the terrible 2013 season, Atlanta fired their offensive and defensive line coaches. It would appear that Atlanta is finally making the trenches the number one priority this offseason. Mike Smith wanted to get the new line coaches hired before the start of the senior bowl (which the Falcons get to coach as a consolation prize to being so bad) so he can focus on scouting talent.
The coaches were hired quickly and both have a considerable amount of experience and upside so this could be a very good thing.
Tice used to be the offensive and tight end coach for the Minnesota Vikings while they had one of the best offenses in the league. He also was a head coach for a brief time and the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears. When he was coaching the offensive lines, they often ranked in the top ten in rush yards per game. Every offensive line under his coaching, however, has had suspect pass protection. Even when the Vikings were on their way to a Super Bowl in the 1998 season, they were ranked 25th in the league in sacks allowed. Chicago may have a little more forgivable sacks since the offense was run around the 7-step drop-back. The offensive scheme allowed more sacks than the line did, not to mention the amount of talent on the line in Chicago was very little. Tice was able to develop several pro-bowl offensive linemen in his seasons in Minnesota.
He has a rough attitude and he won’t accept poor play. He brings toughness to the line and that might make a bigger difference in itself than you might think. His ability to develop veterans and rookies is glowing in his resume and would be great if that sort of coaching came around in Atlanta.
Thomas Dimitroff will be able to work with a large cap to sign both veteran linemen and draft them. With an influx of talent and a new tough attitude, the offensive line may look completely different come 2014 season. He may even be able to develop Peter Konz into the long term center he has the potential to be.
Cox was recently hired as the new defensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons. Ray Hamilton previously had had a difficult time developing young prospects drafted in some later rounds. Not to mention the line almost always had a hard time rushing the passer. Bryan Cox was the pass-rush specialist for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a line coach for the Miami Dolphins when Mike Nolan was the defensive coordinator in Miami. He has a proven record for creating good pass rushing defensive lineman, but had never had a large role in who he teaches or what the defensive scheme was. It shades his success and also puts a cloud around when the lines were unsuccessful. There is not a lot of information on how he schemes since he has never had full control, but Mike Nolan knows him and trusts him. That’s good enough for me to at least give him a chance. If he had anything to do with how great the Buccaneers defensive line is, I gladly welcome him to the Atlanta Falcons.