Falcons Beat: Atlanta ‘toughens up’ with Tice

Photo courtesy of AtlantaFalcons.com

While addressing the media on Monday, Falcons owner Arthur Blank expressed his concerns that the toughness of the 4-12 Atlanta Falcons was lacking during the 2013 season.

“To play football on the professional level and the college level or even the high school level, you’ve got to be a tough kid,” said Blank. “You’ve got to be a tough person…and I think a lot of our players are certainly that… If I asked you … give me a brief definition of what toughness is, I think you might say something else, but you might say to me it’s how you control the line of scrimmage. Can you run the ball? Can you stop the run? … And I don’t think we did either one of those things very well this year…I don’t think we were as tough as we needed to be.”

The first step the organization took to toughen up the trenches was done on Dec. 30 with the firing of offensive line coaches Paul Dunn and Pat Hill and defensive line coach Ray Hamilton. The next step was taken on Jan. 8 by bringing in former Vikings head coach Mike Tice to coach the Falcons offensive line next season. Tice brings 17 years of NFL coaching experience to the Falcons, including seven seasons as an offensive line coach.

Atlanta finished dead last in the NFL in rushing in 2013 at just 77.9 yards per game. While at Minnesota, Tice coached the Vikings in 2002 to the league’s best rushing offense for the first time in team history, and in 2003, the long-time NFL tight end’s squad led the league in total offense for the first time in franchise history.




The 2014 Pro Bowl will be lacking Atlanta flavor as the NFL showcase inaugurates its first player draft to set the teams. No Falcons were selected out of the 86 players which makes Atlanta one of four teams in the NFL without a representative (Giants, Jaguars, Jets).

Atlanta’s schedule will appears easier next year and outside of the division, the Falcons will play just two games against teams that reached the playoffs this year (Green Bay, Cincinnati). In 2013, the Falcons were thrashed and went 0-8 against their playoff opponents. Seven of those losses came to teams playing in the Divisional Playoffs this weekend and six of the losses came to the NFC’s final four teams (Carolina, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle).



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