Remember when the Falcons had Mike Person playing center even though he’d never played the position before? Consider that our starting point for this position group review. And from that perspective, the offensive line is pretty good.
Alex Mack is arguably the best center in the league, and Ryan Schraeder is one of the best right tackles the NFL has to offer. Jake Matthews may not always play up to his draft status, but he’s serviceable. Andy Levitre is fine, and Wes Schweitzer’s rapid development has been a pleasant surprise. The unit has allowed 14 sacks on Matt Ryan this season, which is top 10 in the league. Not bad.
Let’s take a look at where each of these guys stands at the midseason point.
Matthews was drafted by the Falcons with the sixth overall pick in 2014. That’s why fans are probably a little disappointed with his performance. He’s not necessarily living up to that billing. Matthews grades out as average based on Pro Football Focus’ numbers, but he’s only allowed two sacks and been penalized for holding twice all year. He’s under contract through 2018, and he’s better than the alternatives. Remember Ty Sambrailo? Yeah.
Schraeder’s absence was felt when he was sidelined with a concussion for the Falcons’ narrow win over the Lions and their home loss to the Bills. Schraeder’s grading out above average in run blocking and average in pass blocking and overall. He’s allowed two sacks, and he plays nasty but he plays with clean technique. He hasn’t been penalized for holding or any false starts at all.
Sambrailo filled in for Schraeder, and he wasn’t great. He’s had two starts, and he’s give up four sacks and was flagged for a false start. PFF grades him as poor overall and in pass blocking. He’s an average run blocker, according to their advanced metrics.
Please, Schraeder, stay healthy.
Levitre is a veteran and plays like it. But he’s played sloppy this season. If there’s one improvement I’d like to see from him, it’s cleaning up the penalties. Levitre’s credited with two sacks, two false starts, and a holding penalty. PFF gives him an above-average grade for run blocking, and he grades out as average in pass blocking and overall. That sounds about right.
You might look at Schweitzer’s numbers and cringe. But for a first-year starter who had a (bad) backup tackle next to him for two games, it’s actually not that bad. Schweitzer’s to blame for two sacks, and he’s had two false starts and three holding penalties. He grades out as poor in every category, according to Pro Football Focus. But the old eye test tells me that he’s coming along and growing into the player the Falcons need him to be.
Alex Mack is the greatest. He hasn’t given up one sack or been charged with a single penalty all season. He’s graded as an average pass blocker, according to Pro Football Focus. But he’s above average in run blocking and overall. He’s the key to this offensive line’s success and I hope he never retires.
What are your thoughts on the offensive line midway through the season?