ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 20: Will Svitek #74 of the Atlanta Falcons is intriduced before a game against the Tennessee Titans at the Georgia Dome on November 20, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
I'm planning a point/counterpoint regarding Will Svitek and Sam Baker, so this isn't the last you'll hear about this particular battle in the week ahead. I thought I should share something D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote up last night regardless, because it will probably blow some of you away.
According to Ledbetter, Sam Baker was healthy enough to play. He was active, which we knew, and also apparently not just healthy enough to be an emergency backup, which we didn't necessarily know. I think many of us expected Baker to immediately take back his starting job when he was healthy enough to do so.
Perhaps not. Whether Baker is still suffering from the aftereffects of his injury or Svitek's just playing too well to bench, the coaching staff made a conscious choice to leave him in against Jared Allen. Allen had 14 sacks this season. On Sunday, he had none. You can give an enormous amount of credit to Svitek for that.
The implications here are enormous. The Falcons may well be choosing a former undrafted free agent at left tackle for the long haul, which is something none of us would have dared anticipate earlier in the season. If Svitek does struggle, they can always re-insert Baker, but it appears that he may have been Wally Pipped in much the same way that Erik Coleman lost his job to William Moore a year ago.
It's tough to argue that this is a bad thing. Sam Baker was a bit of a penalty machine earlier in the year and allowed three sacks before going down with an injury five weeks back. He's turned in quality starts and even seasons since arriving here in 2008, but no one's ever confused him with an elite tackle. At the very least, the Falcons now have competition at the position, which should get everyone involved to bring their A game.
This is all just musings at this point, because the Falcons could drastically change course and start Baker against the Texans. But I think we haven't seen the last of Svitek as a starter.
Do you think this is an extended audition for Svitek to take over at left tackle? Has Baker lost his job permanently? Kick off a rip-roaring debate, if you would.