Sometimes these discussions really are as simple as the title of the post. I gotta give you all a break every now and then, right?
In case you missed it, the Falcons signed free agent linebacker Edmond Miles earlier this week. He's probably got a chance to contribute on special teams, but it's certainly not a signing that's likely to yield a big impact. The question then becomes, who exactly is going to fill the holes left by Keith Brooking and Michael Boley?
One of the two will almost certainly be Mike Peterson, who played Mike Smith in Jacksonville, is a tough veteran and was almost essentially average last year. While I don't necessarily believe he's hit the end of the line for his career, Peterson isn't likely to wow anyone. He's a solid veteran who can fill in on the outside for a year or two and complement Curtis Lofton reasonably well.
On the other side, we have Coy Wire--who used to be a member of the Bills' secondary--competing with Stephen Nicholas, the 26-year old with plenty of potential but little production since he was drafted three years ago.While Wire's surprisingly solid, I'll be disappointed if he beats out the younger Nicholas, who has the athleticism to contribute outside against the pass and the run.
I hope I'm wrong, but that looks like a pretty bland starting duo flanking Lofton, who may be due for a pretty incredible year as one of the best defensive players on the field. The Falcons' only move to address the position was drafting Miami LB Spencer Adkins, who probably won't even sniff a starting job until three years down the line.
The solution might be to move rookie Lawrence Sidbury to outside linebacker and let him bring his considerable pass-rushing talent to bear there, but there's a bit of uncertainty about whether the team wants him to end up at defensive end or not. There's also the possibility that I'm worrying about nothing, and Nicholas and Peterson will bring considerable force to bear against our hapless opponents. It just doesn't seem all that likely, and I'm at a bit of a loss to solve what might be the greatest remaining defensive deficiency on the roster.
Who do you think will win the two outside starting gigs? What will it take to upgrade linebacker?