Thoughts on the Ed Hartwell signing:
1. Generally, this is a good idea. The Falcons' braintrust has the right idea by continuing to focus on the defense, which tailed off as last season progressed and needs an infusion of talent. Ed Hartwell will improve the run defense significantly and will allow the Birds to play the undersized, but very athletic Demorrio Williams at weakside LB. At first blush, the Falcons' run defense doesn't need much work, since they were 3rd in the NFC in yards per carry allowed, but that could have been a function of the fact that the Falcons were overcompensating for their smallish personnel by calling run defenses and that exposed them to the pass. With Hartwell, they can drop their other LBs more. Also, Hartwell might need to pick up the slack in run defense if Ed Jasper is replaced by an inferior DT.
2. Normally, I'd worry that Hartwell looked good in Baltimore's scheme because Ray Lewis was occupying the attention of opposing defenses, but at this stage in his career, Ray is somewhat overrated. (Anyone else see him get abused by Kansas City on a Monday night last year?) Hartwell did a very nice job replacing Lewis when Ray was out for most of the 2002 season.
3. Would it be too much to ask for the AJC to print the details of his contract, specifically when bonuses are due and what his yearly salaries are? They publish that he's getting $26.5M, but any NFL fan with sense knows that he'll probably never see the back-end of that contract. Some details might be nice.