The Atlanta Falcons go into the 2020 season with playoff aspirations, as a side whose identity remains on the offensive side of the football.
Just like any other team, the Falcons boast a group of players who are more important than anyone else on each side of the ball.
The performance of every player on this list will be crucial to the team’s success in 2020. I would like to just note that this is not a list of the five best players on the offensive side of the ball, but rather the five players whom the team can least afford to perform poorly or to lose to injury/suspension, whether that’s because of their incredible talent or because of the team’s lack of positional depth.
This countdown will be continuing weekly. You can find number five here and number four here.
3) Jake Matthews
The Atlanta Falcons have had some leaks along the offensive line the past couple of seasons, but Matt Ryan hasn’t had to worry too much about his blind side thanks to Jake Matthews’ work from the left tackle position.
PFF ranked Matthews as their 96th best player in the NFL going into 2020, referencing the fact that he was ranked as the third-best tackle in the league via their grading system from Week 4 on last year. The Texas A&M alum made the Pro Bowl in 2018, and he had almost the exact same PFF grade in 2019.
Matthews makes a case for himself as one of the 10 best tackles in the league as he’s solidified the most important position along the line (left tackle) for the Falcons since being selected with the 6th overall pick in the 2014 draft.
If the Falcons were to lose Matthews for any period of time the results would be disastrous. The only other real options to cover left tackle on the roster are Kaleb McGary, who struggled in his rookie season and is a natural right tackle, and Matt Gono, who barely has any NFL experience and none at left tackle. Matt Ryan would certainly have to look over his shoulder much more frequently than he would like in such a scenario.
Going into his age 28 season, Matthews is in the middle of his prime and the best could be yet to come. The Falcons will need Matthews to remain a pillar of consistency at left tackle in order to play up to expectations in 2020.