Injuries have undoubtedly played a role in the Falcons' 1-4 start. When you're playing without your starting running back and fullback, a struggling ground game shouldn't come as a surprise. When your second-best receiver cuts like a three-year-old with dull scissors, a predictable air attack is largely unavoidable. But like Dave without his daily vodka fix, this offense just won't tick. In particular, it won't tick when the offensive line doesn't perform. And [spoiler alert] the offensive line isn't performing.
28. Atlanta Falcons: -24.0
Stud: The guards are the best of a bad bunch with Justin Blalock (+8.1) solid enough in pass protection (seven quarterback disruptions allowed on 242 pass blocks) that he takes the honors.
Dud: Pick a tackle, pick any tackle. It’s Sam Baker (-13.8) who has reverted to type this year and hasn’t even be able to save his grade by missing time.
Summary: A line that has got better but still isn’t great. They’re struggling at both tackle spots no matter who they line up and that has caused no end of problems. Of course it hasn’t helped that Peter Konz has been a noticeable drop off from Todd McClure as the team has struggled to get anything going on the ground.
I'm sure none of this surprises you. PFF's grades don't always paint the big picture accurately, but they're still informative. By that I mean their grades are cumulative, summarizing performance over the course of games and the season.
Lamar Holmes is a perfect example. His PFF grade isn't very good, and that's because he's struggled mightily at times this season. But with that said, he's looked like our best lineman recently. From a financial standpoint, I guess you could say Justin Blalock is earning his contract, so that's good. Meanwhile, Sam Baker
is a n evil human being certainly isn't living up to expectations.
Look, I know the offensive line can't shoulder all the blame for the Falcons' craptastic start. Their defense would make a blindfolded Mark Sanchez look good. But the Falcons have historically overcome mediocre play by their defense. Now they can't, because putting up thirty points seems like a real stretch any given Sunday.