The Atlanta Falcons went 13-3 in 2010 but were quickly knocked out of the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl-champion Green Bay Packers. It was a disappointing ending after they won the NFC South and earned the top spot in the playoffs.
They did this with some weaknesses, though.
While the offense was balanced, they only ranked 15th in passing and 12th in rushing. Good and balanced, but nothing extraordinary.
The draft selection of Julio Jones should greatly help out, as he is an explosive threat. The defense was fairly stout against the run, where they ranked 10th in the league, but had troubles defending the pass and ended up ranked 22nd. The offense was the fifth-best in scoring despite the lack of yardage and the defense was amazingly fifth in points per game as well.
This had a lot to do with a ball-controlling offense, though.
While a lot of the blame goes to their defensive backs, particularly in the playoff game against the Packers, some of the blame needs to also be on the pass rush, or lack thereof. Even when they got to Aaron Rodgers, they were unable to bring him down.
In steps Ray Edwards, one of the top free-agent pass-rushers.
A good pass rush can offset some struggles from the defensive backs, and that's one thing that Edwards will bring to the table.
Last year the Falcons were tied for 20th in the league in sacks with 31, but John Abraham picked up 13 of them. No one else on the team picked up more than four.
Edwards picked up eight sacks last year, which followed an 8.5-sack season the year before. That's the type of production that the Falcons could really use going forward. It would also give them one of the better pass-rushers in the league when Abraham decides to retire, but he does come with some question marks as to how good he really is.
There have also been some doubts that Edwards could do it without the help of another pass-rusher taking some pressure off of him. Atlanta would make this a null point because he would have Abraham on the other side, who would still be occupying the majority of the offensive line's attention. So when Abraham does retire, it might be necessary to go out and draft another defensive end or try to get one in free agency. This could three years down the road though.
Edwards will likely be one of the top-targeted free agents, though, so it won't be an easy pickup for the Falcons. They will have some deep pockets, though, as they no longer have a first-round pick in 2012—that money could go to signing a big-time free agent.
Picking up Edwards would help the run game as well, as he is pretty balanced defensively. He sets the edge well on run plays and can get to the quarterback on pass plays.
Sounds like a good deal to me.
Signing him would be the defensive splash that fans are now begging for, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Arthur Blank and Thomas Dimitroff make it happen.