The Falcons made a conscious decision to improve their offensive line before the offseason kicked off. In particular they wanted to get better at guard. So they hit the ground running, signing veteran offensive guards Jamon Brown and James Carpenter in free agency. And then they added Chris Lindstrom in the first round of April’s draft.
Thomas Dimitroff and his merry band of scouts aren’t perfect, but I challenge you to question the effort they put into retooling the offensive line last Spring. Brown and Carpenter had an epic camp battle full of twists, turns, and a great deal of speculation; but in the end, Carpenter prevailed ... for now. Brown’s failure to capitalize on Carpenter’s hip flexor injury is unfortunate, but it doesn’t mean he won’t have a role going forward. Remember, this is the NFL, where there’s no such thing as too much quality depth.
So what does this decision really mean? How does it affect the Falcons moving forward?
Experience experience experience
Put simply, Carpenter has more experience as a starter and a better track record at left guard. He’s started 97 games as a professional football player, while Brown has only started 38 games. Brown has a checkered history at left guard. Again, Carpenter is more established and has a better track record at left guard. It’s not crazy that the Falcons simply felt more comfortable trotting out Carpenter in week one. It comes down to experience, and it’s not an indictment of Brown. (More on that shortly.)
Small margin for error
The Falcons asked Brown to get quicker and improve his pass protection over the summer. He did both of those things, drawing praise from head coach Dan Quinn. In fact, Brown’s public missteps, if he had them, came during the Jets game when he allowed two quarterback pressures (one quarterback hurry and one quarterback hit). Yet it appears he’s still trying to overcome any doubts that remain in the coaching staff’s minds. But to be sure, Brown’s contract says something about how the Falcons view him; he’s the long-term investment here, not Carpenter. They likely see Brown as a potential starter who needs a little seasoning within the system. That mean’s Carpenter’s margin for error is small. Very small.
The Falcons have excellent depth
This is not a tragedy. It’s not something you should lose sleep over. The Falcons made a concerted effort to get better up front, and they’ve done just that. In a perfect world, Brown capably steps in for Carpenter or Chris Lindstrom, if needed. Heck, even in a world that’s not so perfect, that’s the likely outcome.
This is a scenario where, until you have a reason not to, it makes sense to trust the coaching staff. There are logical reasons they named Carpenter the week one starter. Interpreting that decision as some kind of affront to Brown’s skillset or future in Atlanta is ill-advised.
Your thoughts, Falcoholics?