There hasn’t been any talk of back-to-the-basics football with the Falcons or simplifying anything in an attempt to turn things around after 2013. The offseason has been relatively quiet in the world of the Falcons, but this week marks the beginning of the voluntary offseason workouts and there’s certainly a feeling of a fresh start even if many of the traditional sound bytes aren’t being used. Instead, during the free agency period, the Falcons let their moves do the talking and judging by the first two players signed to the defense, their may be an old-school feel about the 2014 Falcons.
Head coach Mike Smith during his time in Atlanta has repeatedly said he wants football teams that will run the ball effectively and stop the run with equal effectiveness. Last season’s 31st ranking as a run defense has to change and bringing in linemen like Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson should help a lot. On Wednesday, safety William Moore said the player additions will help, but the run defense has to improve either way and they enter the season with that being their top focus.
“(Stopping the run) is number one,” Moore said. “That was the emphasis going into last season and definitely this year. We have to at least try to be top five in improving that statistic. I think we will. That’s why we brought in those guys. Those guys are not single-handedly going to change things, but it’s just part of the puzzle that we’re trying to put together and I really think that will help.”
Both Soliai and Jackson are two of the better run defenders at their position. Soliai, in particular, is stout against the run, not so much for the plays he makes, but what he allows others to make. With his girth in the interior, Soliai consumes double teams and allows the linebackers and defensive backs behind him to make plays. Moore said that’s why he’s glad Soliai is here, but the entire defense’s tackling has to improve, starting with the mental mechanics of it.
“Taking an angle is just the beginning,” Moore said about tackling. “You’ve got to take the right angle, of course, but most of all, it’s a mind thing. You’ve got to have your mind set to go up there and be physical.”