The notion that Arthur Blank got his hands dirty in the Falcons’ roller coaster 2019 offseason is a pervasive one, one that he’s taken pains in recent comments to dispel. There’s little question, either way, that Blank asked for the Falcons to fix the offensive line, and the team’s expenditures there gave them both a solid foundation for the future (Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary) and proved to be a disastrous waste of resources (James Carpenter, Jamon Brown).
Now it appears the Falcons are teeing up to address the offensive line yet again, which is both useful information heading into free agency and confirmation that the Falcons royally screwed up in free agency last year. From Matthew Tabeek’s Q&A with Blank this week:
We have another hole I think at left guard. We have some talented young players there, but we’ll probably look at that position I assume during the draft.
If that’s Blank’s expectation, it’s reasonable to expect that the Falcons will address guard at some point in the upcoming class, potentially with a player who can move to center down the line when Alex Mack moves on. That’s the obvious piece.
The more subtle piece is what it tells us about who is and isn’t coming back. Wes Schweitzer is clearly moving on in that scenario, as is one of Brown or Carpenter, given that the team isn’t going to pay two guards starting money to sit on the bench. That also means that at best, Matt Gono will be competing for a starting role when he honestly should get a real chance to win the job outright. It’s a good thing, on balance, that the Falcons aren’t getting caught up in the sunk cost fallacy, but it’s deeply alarming to see that they so badly misjudged guard last year.
Dimitroff coming back after blowing it with his guard signings is both a testament to Blank’s faith in him and an acknowledgement that Blank is softening up his philosophy as time goes on. As we saw in the Michael Vick 30 for 30, Blank fired Dan Reeves over a Vick injury all those years ago, where two straight inept seasons convince him to pull even further back from the football operations side of the house. Time will tell if that’s the right move, but the Falcons had better ensure their additions on the offensive line this year don’t haunt them the way the Brown and Carpenter signings seem poised to.
The bright note? With Jake Matthews and Alex Mack providing steady, high-end veteran play and both Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary showing real promise, the Falcons should be set at four positions heading into this season. The should is doing a lot of heavy lifting there, but that’s still