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Have The Falcons Failed On The Offensive Line?

With apologies to Aaron over at the venerable FalcFans  blog, I'm going to riff on an interesting question he asked the other day: Have the Falcons already failed to assemble a quality line?

This argument hinges heavily on the left tackle position, clearly a critical need along a line that doesn't have a lot going for it. Aaron's also a strong believer in Jake Long being snapped up by Miami or St. Louis, which leaves the Falcons scrambling for tackles elsewhere in the draft. How many impact tackles will be left by the second round? With tackle a consistent need around the league, probably one at best.

That leaves the Falcons in the unenviable position of seeking free agents or trades to pull in either a good tackle or a left guard so great that he neutralizes whatever rookie or dub ends up on the left side. Aaron dubs the best option for the Falcons as trading for Jonas Jennings and signing Larry Allen, a move I have to respectfully say no thanks to. First of all, Allen is, last I heard, a retired NFL player. Jonas Jennings is also not exactly loved in the 49er locker room and may well be competing for a job next year in San Fran; I'd still probably take him for a reasonable price to compete with Justin Blalock. Expense is a big deal, though, and even someone like Pittsburgh tackle Max Starks (who would be intriguing as a project but has been disappointing in pass coverage, as Aaron says) likely isn't worth it if he comes with a multi-year price tag.

If Long isn't there, Aaron's dead on about us being screwed. I don't see a single legitimate impact starter at the position outside the draft, and even there it's going to be touch and go. The grim reality of this is that the Falcons have done nothing outside of signing Alex "Fellow Russian" Stepanovich to play backup at center, which to me means it has to be draft or bust. If that's the attitude, the team is going to have to deal with growing pains for another year as Blalock and (maybe) Tyson Clabo struggle to control the left side of the line.

Given that this is still a retooling team, I can probably live with that. The question is whether the rest of our offense can. Somewhere Joey Harrington is waking in a cold sweat and screaming.