NFL teams can't tick with bad offensive lines. It's just not possible, no matter how talented your franchise quarterback may be. Before the season began, if I told you the Falcons would have 5 offensive linemen on IR by week 10, you'd have predicted a 3-6 record or worse.
Let's be honest, playing with your third center and fourth right tackle isn't ideal. It's not exactly a recipe for success. But the Falcons have, for the most part, made it work in their last two games. Per Vaughn McClure, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is very pleased with the progress the offensive line has made.
"Ryan Schraeder's a feisty competitor and he's going to go out there and fight," Koetter said. "And James Stone, if people knew all the stuff a center has to know. Next to the quarterback, he's doing the next most amount of talking out there on the field and, after you break the huddle, maybe more. So with all that that kid's had to learn, his mental sharpness (and) the way he picks things up. And then, the fact that he doesn't look hesitant at all out there. He's playing physical. We couldn't be more pleased."
Going forward, more of the same would be nice. The offensive line doesn't have to be perfect, only good enough. So how do they do that?
The simple answer is cooperation. It may seem simple, but the Falcons successfully limited Gerald McCoy by cooperating. Sometimes when the talent isn't all there, you have to get creative in protection. Koetter and Mike Tice have figured that out. In short, nobody needs to be a hero. Just execute.
If anything, this bodes well for the future of the team. In Schraeder and Stone, the Falcons have some reliable guys that can start when necessary. Jon Asamoah and Justin Blalock are dependable veterans, and Jake Matthews has enormous potential. As for Tice, he could squeeze lime juice out of a lemon, if it were necessary.