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The Falcons surrendered the third-fewest sacks in franchise history this season

It didn’t feel like the protection was that amazing, but the numbers don’t lie.

NFL: DEC 18 Falcons at Buccaneers Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Here’s a stat that will astonish those of you who feel that Jake Matthews is mediocre and Wes Schweitzer had a poor season as a starter: The line performed well this season.

Despite some genuine struggles from Matthews, Schweitzer, and Ryan Schraeder, plus an ongoing injury issue for Andy Levitre, the Falcons allowed the third-fewest sacks in franchise history. That’s an impressive achievement for this line, even if we knew how talented the unit was.

It is frustrating and fitting in a way that such a good year for pass protection would come in a year where so many other things went wrong, which limited the upside of this passing attack in some very tangible ways. Generally, though, Ryan wasn’t making off-kilter throws under pressure or taking massive drive-killing sacks on a regular basis. There were just too many drops and penalties this year, is all.

This isn’t all on the line, which also had some genuinely bad games in the run blocking department. Ryan has shown improved mobility and ability to escape pressure in recent years, which helps greatly when the pocket starts to break down. Still, this is a genuine achievement, and it will likely encourage the Falcons to keep this group of starters together next year if it is financially feasible to do so. Certainly you should expect Matthews, Alex Mack, Schweitzer and Schraeder to start, at the very least.