The 2018 season is now in the rearview mirror, so we can look back on it and reminisce. There is plenty of bad to look back on, but this series of articles will focus on some of the good.
The Atlanta Falcons finished the season ranked sixth in the NFL in total offense (6,226 yards) and 10th in scoring offense (25.9 points per game). This grouping of articles will highlight the five players who had the greatest impact and contribution to those very good rankings, counting them down from five to one.
Here is the third-best offensive player for the Atlanta Falcons from this past season.
3) Jake Matthews
Following Matt Ryan’s contract extension early this past offseason, extending the contract of Ryan’s blindside protector, Jake Matthews, became the team’s main priority.
Matthews got that extension — a five-year deal worth $75 million — in late July, after the start of training camp. One year into that new deal, and Bruce Matthews’ middle child has completely justified the show of faith which Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn displayed in him by offering all that money.
Despite how poorly Atlanta’s offensive line performed as a collective unit in 2018, Matthews was a wall at the left tackle position, especially when it came to his pass blocking.
His 79.1 overall Pro Football Focus grade was the highest among all of Atlanta’s offensive lineman, and one of the 10 highest grades among all tackles in the NFL. It was aided by the sublime 85.8 pass blocking grade he earned, which is a borderline-elite mark on PFF’s scale.
Matthews’ run blocking grade of 61.0 wasn’t the best, but the Falcons passed the ball 65.25% of the time in 2018 — the third-highest mark in the NFL — meaning that his wonderful pass blocking carried more weight than his subpar run blocking.
Matthews allowed just two sacks and committed only three penalties in 1057 snaps played at the left tackle position in 2018. Gone are the days of 2013 and 2014, when Matt Ryan was facing constant pressure from his blindside every game. Matthews has started 79 out of a possible 80 games in his career (all at LT), since being drafted with the sixth overall pick in 2014.
Jake Matthews, who plays arguably the second-most important position in all of football (left tackle), has turned into a stabilizing force on Atlanta’s offensive line. His very first Pro Bowl selection is well earned.