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Pro Football Focus: Falcons’ Matthews, Mack among NFL’s best OL in 2018

How is this offensive line so bad?

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have an offensive line that is bad, but according to Pro Football Focus, two-fifths of that offensive line is quite good.

Left tackle Jake Matthews and center Alex Mack clocked in on PFF’s top 24 offensive linemen for 2018, stirring selections that leave you hopeful for the future.

We all knew Matthews had taken a sizable step forward this season, and he comes in at number 14 on the list.

2018 Overall Grade: 80.6

Matthews is having the kind of season GM’s dream about when they lock up a key player long term. It’s been a career year by a good margin for the left tackle in pass protection, as he’s on pace to allow 15 fewer pressures than he did last year.

It’s been a sincere delight seeing Matthews grow into his draft pick, and by PFF’s perspective, he’s the fifth-best left tackle in the league this season. You can tell he’s doing much better at handling the best rushers in the league, and he’s more confident in his standings.

It’s huge for him to be doing this after the extension. It means the Falcons have a premiere left tackle under a new contract entering his prime. That matters...a lot.

Let’s see how Mack fares at spot 18.

2018 Overall Grade: 74.9

After a dominant first two seasons in Atlanta, the 33-year old Mack’s play has slipped a bit this season. He’s still a top-5 center in the league, though, even if it’s not that level of play we’ve come to expect.

It’s no surprise that Mack is beginning to dip a little, but he’s still great at his job. You can’t expect a guy to be elite forever, but Atlanta has the bonus of having a very good veteran center who still has tread on the tires.

He will probably finish his career in Atlanta, and could have the same timeline Todd McClure did, which should put him and Matt Ryan together for at least the next two or three seasons.

He’s fifth-best in the league this season at center, per PFF.

As we all know and as this reinforces, Matthews and Mack are far, far from being the problem for this offensive line. Ryan Schraeder’s struggles and the reserve guards are to blame, as is, essentially, the coaching.

We won’t be surprised to see two new guards in Atlanta in 2019, and perhaps a new right tackle. At least two-fifths of this unit looks rock-steady for the next few years.