The left guard position is thought to be the weak link within the Falcons’ offensive line going into 2020, and the coaching staff is leaving no stone unturned in trying to solve the LG conundrum.
2019 preseason standout Matt Gono is a legitimate player in the competition for the position, after getting some work at guard last season. According to the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, Gono is currently working with the first team at left guard, while James Carpenter and rookie Matt Hennessy are also rotating through at the position. Jamon Brown has missed the past few days of practice with a non-COVID related illness.
The position was a disaster in 2019, with Carpenter and Brown disappointing as free agent signings who were hoping to plug the hole on that left side. Carpenter got the majority of work with 675 snaps and he graded out with an abysmal 45.3 PFF score. Brown wasn’t much better in 587 snaps — grading out with a 53.2 score. Brown did give up 0 sacks compared to Carpenter’s 4, however.
Gono got 40 total snaps and had a 57.3 PFF grade, which isn’t inspiring but at the same time is too small of a sample size to take as gospel. What makes me more optimistic is the fact that Gono was Atlanta’s highest graded offensive lineman in last year’s preseason, and was in line to start Week 1 at right tackle until a back injury put him on the shelf for the majority of the season.
Many thought Gono would go into 2020 as the team’s primary option at swing tackle, and the versatility he provides could see him slot into one of the tackle positions in the event of an injury. For now, though, there seems to be a clear path to the Wesley alum starting come Week 1, and that’s at left guard.
The LG competition will probably be the fiercest one in camp for the Falcons, and it seems like Matt Gono currently has a slight inside track to that starting job. We're rooting for him.