It's well-documented that the Falcons, since the departure of Harvey Dahl in free agency following the 2010 season, have lacked that certain je ne sais quoi along the offensive line. The players who have filled those positions since that time can generally not be described as nasty, and you want some nastiness to be inherent to that unit. It's not really quantifiable, but it seems logical that having a bunch of 300-plus pounds guys with mean streaks protecting your quarterback is preferable to having five guys who could be reasonably expected to extend a hand of friendship to help up a defensive player that just leveled their quarterback.
That's not to say there's no nastiness or meanness along the Falcons' offensive line right now. Lamar Holmes showed some improvement in that area as the season wore on--or he at least became more likely to actually help Matt Ryan up after being sacked as the season progressed. Once Joe Hawley was installed as the starter at center he began to set more of a nasty tone for the unit. But adding a player like Jon Asamoah, who seems to have a thorough understanding of the need for nastiness on the field, while behaving like a prototypical Thomas Dimitroff-approved player off of it, seems to be an exceedingly smart move for the Falcons.
ESPN's Vaughn McClure wrote an interesting piece this morning on the origins of Asamoah's on-the-field mean streak-a quality Asamoah views as fundamentally necessary to the position even though it's something he had to work to develop, as it did not come naturally to him. With that perspective in mind, we can hope that it's an example he can set and something he can teach the rest of that unit to deliberately develop.
Off the field, Asamoah is basically the kind of high character guy Atlanta looks to in order to strengthen their locker room. Like Mike Smith is fond of saying, you win games in the locker room first. Asamoah has never been in any kind of trouble off the field. As a matter of fact, his college position coach at the University of Illinois, Eric Wolford, said that was something he never was concerned about with Asamoah because of his maturity and the fact that his upbringing kept him very grounded.
Asamoah credits Wolford with helping Asamoah develop a nasty streak on the field. McClure quotes Wolford as saying, "They're not going to arrest you on the football field for your play." Based on McClure's reporting, it sounds like Wolford and Falcons' offensive line coach Mike Tice share similar philosophies, which should make this a comfortable transition for Asamoah.
Thomas Dimitroff mentioned last week following the signings of Asamoah, Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson that Atlanta had gotten stouter, grittier and more rugged along both lines. Those issues were undoubtedly Atlanta's most pressing needs this offseason. Acquiring a player like Asamoah who fits with Atlanta's overall character philosophy yet understands the need to set a tone of nastiness on the field is an ideal situation for the Falcons.