Last week Vic Beasley came under fire for passing on an offseason pass rush class. I pointed out that Beasley stays pretty active during offseasons and there must be deeper problems in play. Vic Beasley flashed only with Dwight Freeney on the roster and Takkarist McKinley has been nearly invisible without Adrian Clayborn. We have been questioning new defensive line coach Bryant Young for the lack of a pass rush, but one writer points at a much bigger problem.
Per Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, blame falls right on Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn.
By this point, we know there’s a leadership void. Except for a few players, it’s not a great locker room when things are going south. There doesn’t necessarily seem to be much in the way of backbiting or personal agendas, but there’s very little in the way of tough veteran leadership.
When Ricardo Allen signed his new deal, Dan Quinn specifically mentioned nearly every player had received advice, coaching, or motivation from the free safety. Without Allen, we are seeing a much different defense. As Schultz points out, few if any players will get on their teammates for poor play.
Atlanta has been bit hard by the injury bug, but Schultz astutely points out there are bigger problems at work. The team overlooked veteran leadership in the offseason and failed to replace outgoing veterans, particularly along the trenches. The Falcons entered the offseason with glaring needs at defensive tackle and guard. They added Brandon Fusco and Deadrin Senat.
While I’m not nearly as critical of the Calvin Ridley pick as Schultz, looking back at the draft the Falcons may regret passing on guard Will Hernandez. The team waited for their pick and took the best player available. It’s a great way to build a roster, but not if you ignore needs during free agency, especially after taking huge losses from the departures of Clayborn and Dontari Poe.
Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who make personnel decisions in concert with each other, grossly miscalculated the growth and impact of others on the roster when they neither signed nor replaced Poe and Clayborn. It’s reminiscent of when the team let center Todd McClure go years ago, believing Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes were ready to step up.
The McClure move still hurts even years later, but it’s hard to disagree with the comparison. The team passed on addressing problem areas with the expectation players would be able to fill in. That never happened and blame falls on Quinn and Dimitroff.