The Falcons thrived the last time out against the Saints in part because they kept Matt Ryan clean, and he had an efficient, clean game in return. Ryan was far worse in this one, fumbling once and throwing two picks, but he also was not kept clean.
This was, on the numbers alone, the second-worst performance by a Falcons offensive line in team history, and one of the worst performances in NFL history. In 1984 against the Browns, Steve Bartkowski was sacked 10 times in a single game, a mark I hope is never exceeded. Ryan’s ugly night against the Saints was equaled in in 1970 (Randy Johnson took nine sacks against the Vikings) and during the woeful 2013 season, when Ryan took nine sacks against the Panthers. He has the “honor” of having been on the receiving end of this punishment twice, both against division rivals.
The difference, of course, is that the 2013 offensive line featured guys like Jeremy Trueblood and Lamar Holmes. The 2019 line has a first round, highly-paid left tackle, a stud free agent center, two pricey free agent guards, and a first round pick at right tackle. It’s the kind of line that should never give up nine sacks in a game, but thanks to an injury-marred receiving corps that sometimes struggled to get open, a very so-so game from Ryan himself, brutal play calling and protections from Dirk Koetter, and awful play from the line itself, it happened again.
The offensive line is just a handful of sacks away, with four games to go, from equaling its 2018 total. You’ll recall that 2018 was the year that got the Falcons to spend two first round picks and a bunch of money on this line in the first place. Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary could still be good and Matthews and Mack are certainly better than this, but the mere fact that we’re talking about this line like it needs yet another overhaul is a strong indication that Arthur Blank is about to bring out his broom in the very near future.