The Falcons Will Aim To Control The Ground In 2014

Chris Trotman

Simply put, the Falcons are hoping to control the trenches in 2014.

The Falcons need a better pass rush and better pass protection. Those needs are so well-known and so oversized that they have a tendency to crowd out everything else.

It wouldn't be fair to say that the Falcons have fixed either of those yet, because despite adding several plaeyrs in free agency, the line is clearly not a great unit just yet and there hasn't been a single pass rusher added to the roster. If you're skeptical about that, I don't blame you. Be less skeptical about the ground game, however.

The falcons were somewhere between 26th and 32nd in run defense, depending on which metric you use, and 32nd in yards per carry and rushing average. For a team that once boasted a halfway decent run D and Michael Turner, this was deeply disappointing, and a major part of the team's struggles in 2013. The Falcons, to their credit, have made fixing that a true priority.

Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson aren't the best players in the world, but they are assets against the run. Soliai adds considerable beef to the middle of the line, plugging up space by himself. Jackson is, and this continues to get lost because of his admittedly lackluster pass rushing toolkit, a tremendous run-stopper as a 3-4 end. The addition of those two players alone will keep the Falcons from being one of the three or four worst run Ds in the league.

On the other side of the ball, whichever rookie back winds up in Atlanta is likely to make less of a difference than an upgraded line. Jon Asamoah is an improvement over Garrett Reynolds and Peter Konz at right guard, and the addition of a high-end rookie tackle would represent another improvement. Not having Steven Jackson and Sam Baker hurt—hold your jokes—could also result in an easy upgrade.

Whether this works as well as we hope is and will be up for debate, and unless the Falcons can improve their protection and pass defense, there's no question we won't be looking at a great season. Let's just not forget about the less heralded ground attack and defense, because those could make a bigger difference than you or I might be inclined to think come September.

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