Going from being denied that extra steak to being bulky and straight-up blocking can be a difficult adjustment. Gaining enough weight to hang with the big boys is difficult enough; my days as QB for the backyard team were marred by my tendency to get all 100 pounds of me planted so deeply I could see how the carrots were growing. Fortunately for me, I discovered the joy of anabolic steroids, but I don't encourage our linemen to take the same path.
But in all seriousness, it must be difficult to just pick up a new scheme just like that. According to the Official Site, however, that's exactly what our ragtag collection of o-linemen are doing. The Alex Gibbs zone blocking plan that brought the team so much rushing success over hte last couple of years is gone. It's being replaced by a scheme that's so complex that Pet Rhino can only describe it in fragments. I like to think of it as the Face of God himself, which probably favors the Falcons. So while everyone adjusts to this new plan, I thought it might be fun to take a look at the O-line. Do we have the personnel to execute these crazy schemes?
LT: Wayne Gandy is the easy favorite here. He might be old and ineffective, but damned if he isn't a big dude! Gandy was once a pretty terrific tackle, but those days are gone and he's probably just keeping a spot warm for Frank Omiyale. I hope. Given that left tackle is suddenly a more vital position with Vick out of the picture, I really hope Gandy has something left in the tank. Hideous man-beast Leander Jordan is also in the running here, but I don't really expect him to overtake Gandy.
LG: In my mind, Justin Blalock is the obvious choice here. I can't recall ever being quite so high on an offensive lineman before, though I was pretty thrilled with Kynan Forney. But that's more or less irrelevant. The important there here is that Blalock fits the system and has a good head on his shoulders, which means he should definitely start unless Toniu Fonoti devours him whole. I'd put the chances of that at less than 50%, incidentally.
C: It has to be Todd McClure. I like Doug Datish quite a bit, but I doubt he's ready to step right in. McClure's been through three systems in Atlanta already and he's shown he's perfectly capable of adapting. A no brainer, in my mind.
RG: Probably Forney here, as Tyson Clabo is nothing more than a nice insurance policy. Forney will have to re-gain some of the weight he was forced to lose and battle through any lingering injury concerns. I still think he's adaptable enough to start at guard again this year, especially because it's no longer the QB's weak side.
RT: Todd Weiner is the likely choice, but I'd be pretty surprised if the coaching staff wasn't grooming Quinn Ojinnaka. Ojinnaka seems to me to have more projectable size, but we'll see. If all else fails the team can just trot Ovie Mughelli out over here; he seems big and immobile enough.
So those seem like the likely choices. You'll also notice those are the projected starters on the Official Site, which doesn't bode well for our depth. Oh well.