The 2019 offensive line promises to be a unit in transition. There will be a new left guard, new right guard, and new right tackle, and in the case of the tackle position, that’ll be true for the first time in many years. There are only two holdovers from the 2018 group, and of those, only one is likely to be a longterm solution for this team.
That’d be Jake Matthews, securely locked up with a long-term deal and coming off arguably the best season of his career, as Pro Football Focus aptly noted recently.
#Falcons LT Jake Matthew (@jakematthews70) had another strong season in 2018. He was the tied for 5th in pass-blocking grade and 8th in pressure rate allowed among tackles with a minimum of 200 pass-blocking snaps!! #InBrotherhood #RiseUp— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) May 19, 2019
This matters a great deal because of what’s currently happening and what’s to come. Alex Mack is the true veteran guru and star of this line, and as a six-time Pro Bowler, he’ll be able to give valuable advice and guidance to rookies Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom. But Mack is also set to be 34 years old and in the second-to-last year of his deal, while the Falcons are filling at least one guard spot with a likely 1-3 year free agent option. Besides the rookies, the only true long-term solution is Matthews. He’s just enter
That’s why it’s fair to expect Matthews to be the man this Falcons team elects to build around on the offensive line, regardless of how good Lindstrom and McGary become. If he continues to play at the level that he did in 2018, his importance will only grow as Matt Ryan gets older and protecting him becomes even more paramount. As talented as this group could be (and better be), it’s nice to have one or two settled items on an unsettled line.