Matt Ryan has been sacked 31 times this season. The offensive line gets to face one of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Joey Bosa. While this sounds like a recipe for disaster, are there matchups that favor Atlanta other than this particular one? Let’s take a look.
In the trenches
For the Chargers there’s two names to pay attention to. Joey Bosa, who leads the team with 7.5 sacks and Uchenna Nwosu who has 3.5. In the middle Linval Joseph is not quite the player he once was but is still stout in the middle. Justin Jones is a great run defender while Jerry Tillery has 3 sacks but is a big liability against the run. This is a solid group, but maybe not quite as overwhelming as what the Saints offered last week. Still, Bosa is a wrecker that the Falcons will need to keep an eye on all afternoon.
Alex Mack, Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom are all playing well enough. Lindstrom in particular has been quite good in his second year. The left guard spot is being manned by Justin McCray for now and he’s ... not great. Kaleb McGary is the wildcard here. He’s had moments of brilliance and moments of disaster. His play has been all over the map and it’s hard to figure out how he’s going to fair on any given Sunday.
The instability at right tackle and left guard creates some potential issues for the Falcons. Bosa will almost certainly take advantage of some of these issues. Give the nod to the top-tier pass rusher.
The skill positions
The Falcons may be missing Julio Jones yet again, leaving Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage to carry the load. With players like Hayden Hurst and Todd Gurley not contributing meaningfully in several games, you truly wonder if Atlanta can get their offense going again without Julio in the lineup.
The Chargers have some issues on the back end of their defense. Chris Harris Jr. is having one of his worst seasons ever. CB Michael Davis has been good in coverage this year and figures to be on Ridley throughout the day. Safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Nasir Adderley are not going to help much in coverage either. Linebackers Kenneth Murray and Kyzir White are also not much for coverage and could be a weakness if the Falcons look to target them.
Simply put: Atlanta needs someone else to step up. Gurley and Hurst can’t remain invisible in this game. Dirk Koetter has to be better. Otherwise, this one isn’t looking promising either.
It’s criminal to think the Falcons are fielding some talented players on offense and may still not be able to do much. It’s also insane that Dirk Koetter continues to call an uninspired offense and remains employed. Until he shows us that he can use guys like Hurst and Gurley better, fans shouldn’t be particularly optimistic about this matchup.