They let Matt Ryan get sacked three times and absorb eight hits. At times they looked like five damn turnstiles out there on the field. But it’s not necessarily time to panic.
Thursday’s game was a bit different, because while the Falcons trotted out a standard vanilla preseason game plan, the Jets and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams were relentlessly blitzing like it was a damn Super Bowl.
Jake Matthews spoke to reporters after the loss to the Jets about the number of blitz packages New York threw at them on Thursday.
“You never know what you’re going to get,” Matthews said. “It’s still a real game, so we’ve got to be able to lock down whatever they send our way. So we’ve got to improve on that.”
They do need to improve, but this was just Week 2 of the preseason, and we have new guys plugged in at three different positions. It takes time for rookies to adjust to the speed of the game and for the line to develop the chemistry and trust it needs to function seamlessly.
Let’s break down where the Falcons are at each position along the offensive line heading into Week 3 of the NFL preseason.
Left tackle is set
Barring any kind of catastrophe, the Falcons are set at left tackle. Matthews has been reliable over his career. There’s virtually no chance we see anyone but Matthews locking up this starting role, so I’m not going to belabor it.
Left guard depends on James Carpenter’s health
Jamon Brown did not hold up well against the Jets’ blitzing. He’s gotten more opportunities in that starting spot with James Carpenter sidelined with a quad injury. Carpenter is day-to-day, but a guy who is 6’5 and 321 pounds is going to need to be fully healthy to be able to function on the field.
Here’s hoping Carpenter is healthy enough to get back out there soon. Brown did not inspire confidence against the Jets.
Center will be Alex Mack
Much like Matthews at left tackle, there really isn’t any reason to discuss this one. It’s Mack. Mack only played 14 snaps on Thursday, which did contribute to the line’s struggles. His veteran presence steadies the line from the inside out, and his instincts and communication skills on the field are a tremendous asset. He’s the obvious starter.
Right guard is going through some growing pains
Yes, Lindstrom got burned a few times on Thursday. It’s important to note that NFL game speed is a huge adjustment for rookies in general; it’s even bigger for offensive linemen. Lindstrom will settle in, but if you’re horrified by his performance on Thursday, it’s understandable. It was kind of a jackass move for Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to blitz so much in a meaningless preseason game, but it was good experience for Lindstrom and hopefully will help him acclimate to the speed of the game at the pro level.
Right tackle is mildly terrifying
Ty Sambrailo has had moments where he looks like a perfectly adequate right tackle. He’s also had moments that force you to remember that one time in 2016 that Vic Beasley had 3.5 sacks against him in a single game when Sambrailo was still with the Broncos. Last night was mostly the latter.
The next best option on the roster is Kaleb McGary, who’s out for a few weeks recovering from a minimally invasive heart procedure. But McGary’s going to have a learning curve with game speed after missing the preseason. Matt Gono has looked good, and Jaelin Robinson has shown promise, but as it stands right now, Sambrailo remains atop the depth chart.
How are you feeling about the offensive line so far this preseason? Talk it out in the comments.