It’s not fun being so negative.
Which makes my negative reaction to the Atlanta Falcons initial free-agent moves doubly worse.
Are the Falcons a better team after signing guard Jon Asamoah, defensive tackle Paul Soliai and defensive end Tyson Jackson? Aboslutely.
Are they a significantly better team? No, not really.
At least not in some areas. Sure, they beefed up the run defense. But was the run defense that huge a need? Perhaps it’s selective memory, but outside Bobby Rainey’s Week 11 romp, I don’t recall that many instances where I felt like the defense getting the ball run down their throat.
I do remember the Falcons getting run on and run on a lot, but it never felt like it was something “out of control” to the degree to prompt swift and decisive action at the outset of the free-agent market. I think a lot of the poor run defense had more to do with the fact that they were so young at linebacker, coupled with shoddy tackling in the secondary. It seemed more like long runs were killing the Falcons, evidenced by the 28 runs of 15 or more yards they gave up last season, which was tied for the fourth-highest total allowed in the league.
Not to suggest that upgrading the run defense shouldn’t have been a priority for the Falcons, just not the priority.
I try not to be the guy that acts like the “armchair GM” that all his decisions are the right decisions. I’m very aware that I’m often wrong about things, and that there are several methods to the madness that is building successful NFL teams.
So when looking at the Falcons’ moves, I always try to see them from the team’s perspective. And if I can follow their logic and thinking, then I can usually accept, if not approve their decision-making.
So from the team’s perspective, it’s very clear they wanted to upgrade both lines. They re-signed two offensive lineman in Joe Hawley and Mike Johnson and added Asamoah. They went after defensive linemen by re-upping Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux while adding Soliai and Jackson.
It’s clear that the focus was on the interior of both lines, to add beef and “toughen up” the unit just like they had indicated was their plan all along. I mentioned Soliai as a potential target back in February, albeit with the expectation that he’d be a relatively cheap addition.
So on the face of things, I cannot fault the Falcons. In fact, I applaud them. They correctly identified the two biggest weaknesses of the team in both lines and addressed them with upgrades.
But once you go beyond that superficial layer, things start to fall apart.