The disappointing 4-12 season that the Atlanta Falcons just endured did not sit well with Falcons owner Arthur Blank; nor should it. The Falcons were coming off an NFC-best 13 wins, a number one seed in the playoffs, and were a win away from playing in the Super Bowl just a season ago.
The 2013 season left the Falcons asking questions and searching for answers. The Falcons were an injury riddled team this season, but that was just one of the many issues that reared its ugly head for a team that entered the season with such high hopes. Two glaring issues for Atlanta were both their offensive and defensive lines. The lack of physicality in the trenches forced Blank to make some much needed and necessary changes.
It did not take him long.
He started with the firing of offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn. This was a move that seemed inevitable after Matt Ryan was sacked a career-high 44 times this past season. Ryan picking himself up off the turf every play is not something that Blank or any other Falcons fan wants to see. The Falcons also finished last in the National Football League against the run, allowing more rushing yards per game than any other team.
The Falcons are replacing Pat Hill with Mike Tice. Tice was most recently the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears during the 2012 season. Tice does have a connection with Falcons head coach Mike Smith, and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, going back to their days in Jacksonville. Tice was an assistant head coach on offense for the Jaguars while Smith was the defensive coordinator and Koetter was the offensive coordinator.
It should not take this group of coaches long to develop continuity that can hopefully translate to the offensive line.
The Falcons are also bringing in a new defensive line coach to replace Ray Hamilton. Atlanta went out and brought in Bryan Cox. Cox played 12 seasons as a linebacker from 1991-2002, and finished his career with the New Orleans Saints. Cox is joining Atlanta after a two-year stint with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he coached the defensive front seven and served as a pass rush specialist. Cox does not bring much experience to the table, only coaching since 2006, but he does bring a tough hard-nosed attitude that the Falcons need.
Blank also brought in former Kansas City general manager, Scott Pioli. Pioli was relieved of his duties in Kansas City following the 2012 season. He has also worked in the Patriots’ front office as a national scout before being promoted to director of college scouting.
Blank is hoping that these new faces can instill some physicality and toughness back into the trenches where it is needed the most. They will also look to bring in some fresh young talent from the upcoming draft that can fit the mold of the direction they are heading. It is crucial that the new personnel can bring a more tenacious and physical culture to the trenches of Atlanta, so this team can once again be a force in the NFC.