The Atlanta Falcons put their biggest weakness on display Saturday night. The piecemeal offensive line was absolutely manhandled by the Miami Dolphins' defensive front. It's a glimpse of things to come - that is, if something isn't done, and quick.
The regular season is rapidly approaching. Ya know, games that actually matter. And while the defense has shown real improvement, the offense is going to struggle. ESPN's Vaughn McClure eloquently summed up the problem as it now exists like this:
The Falcons obviously missed Hawley's presence and will miss him more if he's not capable of enduring a full regular-season game due to knee concerns ... [but] the problems are much bigger than just one person. Stone, who emerged at left guard and essentially sent Jon Asamoahto the bench, struggled miserably against Dolphins defensive tackleEarl Mitchell. More often than not, Stone got pushed back throughout the game. And Chester, who actually stepped into his familiar right guard spot following Asamoah's demotion, had his own issues against Suh. Plus Schraeder got overpowered at times.
Urgency is important here. Everyone anticipated a learning curve on the front end of the Quinn era. There are going to be the inevitable hiccups and growing pains. But there's a radical difference between complete ineptitude and imperfection. Given the personnel, coaching, and leadership, the former is completely unacceptable. Nobody is asking these guys to be perfect, but watching Matt Ryan hit the turf like he did last night isn't something I'll stomach quietly.