Recently, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank called out his team on all the reasons why they were such a disappointment this season. The man who writes the checks let the world know that one of the biggest reasons was a lack of toughness on both the offensive and defensive lines. Not satisfied to simply call them out on their lack of toughness, he promised to not just sit idly by, but to do something about it.
Well, a man of his word, Blank and the rest of the management staff did just that when they hired former head coach Mike Tice to coach the offensive line and former tough-guy linebacker Brian Cox to lead the defensive line.
Tice, who looks like he could get in the trenches and push around his offensive lineman sometimes, is known for his physical lines. The Falcons had one of the worst offensive lines in the league last season, and adding a former head coach with a resume like Tice’s will go a long way towards cultivating a line that can keep franchise quarterback Matt Ryan upright and making plays.
On the opposite side of the ball, the defensive line was just as ineffective in 2013 as the offensive line was. Most notable was the lack of any reliable pass rush. Atlanta finished 29th in the NFL in sacks last year, and if you can’t rush the passer you can’t stop any good team from running up the score on you. Cox, most recently employed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a pass-rush specialist, spent most of his NFL playing career as an less-talented linebacker who simply out-worked and out-toughed his competition.
Both Tice and Cox will bring the kind of toughness and intensity the Falcons need to get back on track.