Let's get this out of the way: the Falcons offensive line was terrible on Sunday. They literally allowed 21 pressures on 42 drop backs, which seems about right when I rewind the game in my mind (and cry in the corner). As expected, there is much lamenting over the woes of this line, and rightfully so. But the bigger question is why. Why did this line struggle so badly, and do we have a talent issue at hand?
To get some answers about this specific iteration of the Falcons offensive line, I went to the fantastic statistics at PFF to dive a bit deeper into how our line has looked this year (including the preseason). Here's how our line has graded out so far:
|Player||PS Week 1||PS Week 2||PS Week 3||RS Week 1|
As you can see from these numbers, each of our linemen has had games where they performed either well, or about average. The problem? None of them have done so in the same game.
As you can see from week to week, each week a different set of players had rough performances. Based on the preseason trends, it would have been reasonable to expect Baker to perform well, Blalock to be average to just below average, Konz to be about the same as Blalock, Reynolds playing slightly below average with Holmes struggling. And honestly - if you were to ask most Falcons fans about their expectations for this line - that is probably how they would rate those players.
But the problem is the inconsistency - and it showed up big against the Saints. While Blalock and Reynolds both finally played better - unexpectedly, Konz and Baker grade far lower than their averages. And while Holmes was a big pile of stink, it's far easier to scheme for one player being a weak link than for 3 of them being so - which is exactly what happened on Sunday.
So what does this tell us about the line as a whole? With the exception of Holmes, who is still very young and learning - the rest of the line has the ability to play well - they've all done it at various points during this young season. The bigger issue is getting them all to do it in the same game at the same time. To this amateur analyst, that looks like a problem with coaching and cohesiveness.
While it's little consolation for the loss that was suffered, I do believe the Falcons have the personnel to put forward an average offensive line. I don't see this line being dominant, but on the merit of talent alone - these players have the ability. It's now up to them - and the coaching staff - to figure out why it has yet to come together.
Let's hope that happens before the Rams come into town on Sunday.