All season long, both offensive and defensive lines were clear sore spots for the Atlanta Falcons.
Now, in the wake of a loss to the Panthers that saw Matt Ryan sacked nine times and hit 14 times while Cam Newton was sacked and hit just once, the team has decided to cut ties with defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and offensive line coaches Paul Dunn and Pat Hill. The news was made official Monday night:
The Falcons have announced that OL coaches Paul Dunn and Pat Hill and DL coach Ray Hamilton will not return for the 2014 season.— Jay Adams (@FalconsJAdams) December 30, 2013
Neither of these decisions should come as much of a surprise.
From Peria Jerry to Lawrence Sidbury, the Falcons have struggled to develop young linemen under Hamilton and were never able to attain a dominant pass rush during any of his six seasons with the team. This year was no different: the Falcons once again finished towards the bottom of the league in sacks with 32.0 on the season, of which only 21.0 came from defensive linemen. On top of that, the Falcons fielded one of the worst run defenses in the league (2nd worst in terms of total yardage and YPC).
On the other end, Atlanta's O-line was just as much of a disaster. Just about every lineman on the roster started a game, and almost none of them found success. Peter Konz regressed in his sophomore year while Lamar Holmes looked thoroughly unprepared and unfit to start at this point in time. Ryan spent most of his time on the turf and Steven Jackson had almost no running lanes to work with. You could maybe argue that Hill deserved one more year, seeing that it was only his second season with the team, but I'm certainly not one to disagree with the move. The line looked atrocious, no more so than on Sunday, and so it's Dunn and Hill that take the fall.
The Falcons got bullied at the line of scrimmage time and again through the 2013 season. They'll need to significantly improve in both areas this offseason if they want the "quick turnaround" Thomas Dimitroff believes is within this team's grasp.
And with seven of Atlanta's 12 losses coming by a touchdown or less this season, perhaps that is possible. Nobody ever wants to cheer at someone losing their job, but these changes were needed, and it represents an important first step on what will be a long offseason journey.
What do the lot of you think of the news?