The Falcons were linked or through to be interested in a lot of top available free agents. There was no way to fix all of the problems, especially in the league's worst defense, in a few days of free agency. However, the Falcons seemed to let a number of higher-priced players that would dramatically improve certain positions pass by.
The team, likely after reading the opinions of a few Falcoholic commenters, figured it was best to explain their free agency approach. Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was able to interview Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn about free agency.
Thomas Dimitroff, the once universally praised but more recently maligned general manager, said: "There are a lot of really good football players in this league who don’t carry an outrageous price tag. We spent a lot more time evaluating these players than people outside this building, and we feel very confident about our approach."
The Falcons seems to be more interested in addressing the roster's depth, or lack thereof, than being the top-heavy team of the past. Schultz points out that Seattle was not built by big spending on the first few days of free agency. Instead they signed cheaper players, developed their young talent, and had some true competition for snaps.
If Mike Smith coached the Seattle Seahawks, Matt Flynn would likely still be their starting quarterback. Things look to change with Dan Quinn.
The new off-field team is in the midst of its first on-field rebuilding project, changing parts, scheme and mindset.
The was not a few pieces away from being competitive. The Falcons need an entire change in philosophy to get them back to the playoffs, and not be ran over once they got there.
Quinn summed up his defensive philosophy, which is a lot different from, "sacks don't matter."
"There’s a real style and attitude about how we’re going to play," he said. "It’s not about the one guy. It’s not about pass rusher — it’s pass rush. It’s not done with one man — it’s done with the style and attitude that we play to affect the quarterback. And (critics) need to wait a while, too. It’s still March."
My opinion may not be terribly popular, but the defensive roster had more talent than their 2014 results. It has been a few years since the defense played with "attitude" or did anything other than briefly slow down opposing offenses. The scheme, snaps, and player fits of the last few years could be charitably described as nonsensical.
While many may criticize the lack of big moves after two disappointing seasons, including one that contained a number of big moves, the new brain trust looks to be making long-term changes.
Dimitroff said Pioli’s increased responsibilities have allowed the general manager to "roll my sleeves down a little bit. … It allows me to step back and look at things from a big-picture perspective and …. not worry about the day-to-day processes in the personnel department."
The article also highlights collaboration between the coaching staff and the talent evaluators. In retrospect, the 2014 additions never matched the schemes eventually instituted by the coaching staff. This has occurred a few times before, but never to the point where fans question if the franchise is really just one bad fever dream. Clearly 2014 was a breakdown in multiple points along the way, which necessitated the big changes in the organization.
The biggest impact for this team will likely be jettisoning the old coaching staff, not with expensive free agent additions. My expectation is the Falcons will continue churning the roster and adding cheap veterans along the way.