The Falcons’ offensive line is, in a word, “problematic.” Fixing the offensive line was the tall task the front office promised to undertake last offseason. And they did just that ... kinda. To their credit, they did make a substantial investment, sinking gratuitous free agent dollars and a couple of first round picks into the project. But regrettably that investment didn’t pay the dividends we hoped it would. And as a result, franchise quarterback Matthew Thomas Ryan hit the deck far too often. These are the days of our lives.
But what if the offensive line isn’t as messed up as it appears to be? Put differently, what if they are a replacement-level guard away from being a solid unit? Here’s 3 reasons to remain cautiously optimistic that a competent offensive line can be cobbled before the season kicks off in 7 months.
It’s easy to forget that both Jake Matthews and Alex Mack still play for this team. And it’s easy to forget that whatever player is tabbed to play left guard for the Falcons next season will have the benefit of their company. That’s invaluable and it’s a good place to start. Put differently, it could be worse. Left tackle and center are arguably the most important positions on the offensive line, and the Falcons are set at both.
Rookies aren’t rookies forever
Chris Lindstrom’s injury derailed his rookie year. Kaleb McGary underwent an unexpected surgery that delayed his rookie debut and notwithstanding his issues defending some of the better edge players in the NFL, he showcased run blocking chops that would leave most scouts drooling. We’re fully expecting both men to make take a big step forward in 2020, and those expectations aren’t unrealistic.
The Falcons have options at left guard
Alright, here’s the hard part. At present, the Falcons don’t have a starting left guard. They have two players that they’re paying like starting left guards, and there’s a good chance neither James Carpenter nor Jamon Brown actually win the starting gig. But Carpenter and Brown will compete against some combination of Matt Gono, Wes Schweitzer or another (relatively cheap) free agent addition, and potentially a draft pick. In a perfect world, a replacement-level left guard emerges from that competition.
Look, Falcoholics, here’s the bottom line: There are plenty of reasons to be worried about the offensive line going forward. I’ve repeatedly voice my concerns about their ability to protect franchise quarterback Matthew Thomas Ryan. But before anyone jumps ship, it’s worth considering the possibility that things aren’t as bad as they may have initially seemed.