I could go on for quite a bit for how much I dislike our hybrid scheme, but I doubt that I'm going to change your mind on the issue. I blame the hybrid scheme for our defensive line's inability to generate consistent pressure, and for it's inconsistency in the run game. The only way that we generate pressure is to send 5 or 6. If we picked either the 3-4 or 4-3, we could go about getting the players necessary to make one of those two work well on a consistent basis. As it stands, our defensive line is a hodge podge, and it's largely ineffective. 22nd against the run, 22nd against the pass. Biermann and Spoon wouldn't improve those numbers significantly, as they haven't done so in previous years.
I think you're blaming the scheme for what ostensibly is a personnel issue. The Falcons weren't generating consistent pressure when they were strictly a 4-3. And the 3-4 is typically predicated on the ease at which it is to send 5-6, because it's easier to disguise blitzes in that scheme than it is in a strict 4-3. If there is an argument to be made why the 3-4 > 4-3, it is pretty much based on that fact alone: blitzing is easier.
So I don't really understand why you're blaming the scheme here. The problem is personnel. It almost always is with defense.
Osi is done. He was done last year, it's why the Giants got rid of him. He just doesn't have the 1st step anymore. That has nothing to do with the scheme. You could play him in a strict 4-3 and put him in Wide 9, and it still wouldn't change that his first step has gone from what used to be an 8 or 9 a few years back to what is probably only a 6 nowadays. Which means he only gets sporadic pressure against any starting OT that is mildly competent.
Babs is old. In fact I think the scheme has somewhat reinvigorated him but he's almost 32 and typically disruptive DTs lose it at 31.
Corey Peters is not a pass rusher. This is what I've always said about Peters, and when I've been critical of him when people talked him up like he was the next Babs. Peters doesn't have the first step to be a disruptive force like Babs has been in the past. His first step is good enough that it means he can get leverage and occasionally put heat on the QB, but he never had Babs' ability. He has found his footing as a run defender and hole clogger. And as I said 9 months ago, Peters is more than capable of manning the NT spot: viewtopic.php?p=114870#p114870
And I feel somewhat vindicated that Peters is the 10th highest-rated run defender on Pro Football Focus' DT grades, with higher grades than Paul Soliali, Haloti Ngata, Steve McLendon, Geno Atkins, Aubrayo Franklin, etc.
Massaquoi is Massaquoi. A nice rotational DE but he shouldn't be starting. We'll see if this year will make him into a better player next year. DEs typically don't hit their stride until Year 3, so we'll see.
And Jerry has taken to his new role well. He's way more disruptive than he has ever been in the past. ANd playing the DT/DE hybrid spot is a good fit for him. So much so that if the Falcons offered to re-sign him for a veteran minimum deal, I think that would actually be a smart move.
He's lacking as a run defender, but he is a capable pass rusher, and arguably has been our most consistent guy in the front 4 this year. But again, that's relative to the fact that the team doesn't really have anybody that can consistently beat 1 on 1 blocks, which is basically what pass-rushing is.
The Falcons need to revamp their personnel, not their scheme.
Next year's FA class is going to be stacked with DL talent. We'll see what the draft brings, but unlike most I'm not going to really say anything about that since we have a long way to go there.
But if they hit the open market, I would pursue Lamarr Houston and/or Greg Hardy hard if I was the Falcons. I'd also pursue Willie Young to be an OLB. I'd also dump Osi. If Babs is amenable to a 1-yr. deal worth $3-4 million, then I'd happily re-sign him. If he's not, then he can go. Obviously, if Washington lets Orakpo hit the open market, I'll slit my grandmother's throat to sign him. And depending on price tag, I'd go hard on Wes Woodyard, like we should have done in 2012.
Can the Falcons afford these players? Maybe. If they're willing to cut bait on some of their more recent signings like Osi, S-Jax. If Tony retires, and they cut Nicholas, Baker, DeCoud, Douglas, give Julio his long-term deal, and ask Roddy and Ryan to restructure, maybe by lowering ROddy's salary and adding 1 more year to his contract, and they could easily slash $5-8 million off Ryan's cap hit as well by lowering his base salary.
Their normal M.O. is to do the minimum possible in the off-season. But we'll see what Arthur Blank demands. And who knows, maybe there will be a new regime calling the shots in the front office come March...