The Atlanta Falcons have been getting frankly disastrous results from their offensive line for much of the 2018 season. Opinions are sharply divided on Jake Matthews (who has been good) and Alex Mack (who has been solid, in my opinion, but has suffered from the turnover next to him). They are less divided on Wes Schweitzer (between competent and lousy), Ben Garland and Zane Beadles (lousy), and Ryan Schraeder (disappointing in the extreme, given how good he has been).
The Falcons don’t have a ton of in-house options to fix that problem, and going from Garland to Beadles did not appear to make anything better against the Ravens. Atlanta is desperate to try to keep Matt Ryan from getting sacked a career-high number of times and getting some semblance of a ground game going, however, so they’re going to work with the options they do have.
Enter Ty Sambrailo, who is currently getting first team reps at right tackle in place of Schraeder.
Ty Sambrailo is getting some reps with the first team at right tackle today. Both Zane Beadles and Ben Garland are rotating at right guard, although it looked like Beadles was the first one up.— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) December 5, 2018
Ty Sambrailo, of course, is known for a semi-competent stint at right tackle when Ryan Schraeder was injured. He’s also known for getting destroyed by Vic Beasley back in his golden 2016 season, to the point where the Falcons...apparently felt compelled to later trade for him? I’m still wrestling with the logic on that one. Sambrailo is not a brutally bad tackle, but if Schraeder was playing at a remotely solid level this year, he wouldn’t sniff the field. He’s a good athlete, he’s still just 26 years old and he has the draft pedigree, but his pass protection track record is, to put it mildly, shaky.
The short term implications of this are simply this: If Sambrailo starts and plays better than Schraeder, he’ll likely have the job the rest of the way. If he doesn’t, they’ll turn back to Schraeder, because they don’t appear ready to trust UDFA rookie Matt Gono with the role yet, or perhaps at all.
There are longer term implications. Sambrailo is an upcoming free agent, but if Schraeder is no longer in this team’s plans he could re-sign to compete for the right tackle job, so this should be considered an audition of sorts. If he can provide any stability to the position—and I will be frankly surprised if he does—then Sambrailo will earn respect and gratitude from this coaching staff, his fellow offensive lineman, and especially Matt Ryan and Tevin Coleman.
If the Falcons do go through with this, we’ll hope Sambrailo can be a major, pleasant surprise.