The first game allows for overreactions. The weirdness that happens—things like the Rams putting up 40 points, the Chiefs beating the hell out of the Patriots, and yes, the Falcons barely edging by a scrappy Bears team—tend to leave outsized impressions after a long offseason. Such is the case for poor Wes Schweitzer, whose lousy first game already has some fans calling for his head.
That’s inevitable after a rough start, especially when you’re talking about a player who juuust beat out a fan favorite in Ben Garland. This is, on paper, a Super Bowl-caliber roster, and so there’s not going to be a lot of tolerance for someone who screws up. Schweitzer’s play directly led to some bad runs and a couple of drive-killing sacks, and given the fact that Atlanta almost lost against the Bears, he would have been a tremendous goat. He was responsible for three of the four pressures put on Matt Ryan, per Pro Football Focus, and did not fare well as a run blocker either.
That is concerning! The Bears have a good defensive front, but not the best one Atlanta will face in 2017 with the Seahawks on the docket, and Schweitzer could get manhandled again. If he strings together several performances like this, we’re going to be talking a lot about what Ben Garland taking over.
But as the headline suggests, it’s obvious that it’s way too early to be writing off a man who was making his first NFL start in his second season. We’ve made that mistake many times before, and the Falcons have every reason to be patient with Schweitzer, who could solidify the right guard spot for years to come if he can develop. There may come a time when Schweitzer is too much of a liability to trot out there, but that time is not after one, nerve-jangling road game. As we’ve seen from the likes of Roberto Aguayo, shaking a young player’s confidence and threatening to replace him doesn’t always lead to better outcomes.
With the Packers coming to town next, though, I’m certainly hoping Schweitzer can find more success and get his feet under him. Atlanta’s success on offense this year depends a great deal on quality line play, so the sooner Schweitzer gets it figured out, the better.