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Falcons position reviews: Offensive tackle

Jake Matthews and Kaleb McGary anchored the outside of a terrible 2021 offensive line. How much of that bad play was on them?

Atlanta Falcons v New York Giants Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

It’s hard to talk about the Falcons offensive line without first looking at the 2021 season Matt Ryan had. He was sacked 40 times (!!!) and was hit a league-high 130 times in 17 games.

The Bears were 31st with 114 hits, for context. It’s easy to blame the entire line and want to blow up the unit, but how did our tackles fare specifically? Let’s examine their play in 2021.

Jake Matthews

In his eight years in the league, the reliable left tackle has missed exactly one game: in his rookie year, after his ankle was stepped on. That kind of reliability is incredibly valuable and Jake has given not only that, but he’s consistently been a good pass blocker who you can leave on an island to do his work.

For 2021, he was the team’s best offensive lineman for pass blocking, with a 97.7 effective rate per PFF. He allowed 3 sacks, 5 hits and 18 hurries through 17 games. While Matthews has not turned into the next Joe Thomas as many hoped he would, he’s still a consistently good tackle and one you don’t have to worry about over the course of a season.

Grade: A

Kaleb McGary

The third year tackle is still frustratingly inconsistent. He seems just as likely to give you a game where he locks down the opposing pass rusher as one where he gives up multiple sacks and a plethora of pressures. Against Tampa Bay in week 13, he had a strong outing with zero pressures allowed.

Two weeks later against the 49ers? He gives up seven pressures, five hurries and one sack. As a run blocker, he’s shown he can be really effective as well and he’s been a bit more consistent in that aspect of his game. The book is not yet closed on this guy, but the story so far is not a good one. His 2021 was more of the same and it really needs to course correct in 2022 or his time in Atlanta may be coming to an end.

Grade: D

Overall

Between the two tackles, they allowed 12 sacks on the year. That’s not a great number, but it’s also not the biggest shortcoming on this offensive line. McGary simply has to become more consistent and lift his overall level of play or the Falcons may be looking to replace him in 2023. Jake is one of the only two players worth his salt on this offensive line, but he can’t do it alone. The grade of this unit is lifted by the reliable left tackle, but hopefully both players (and any new additions) will play well in 2022.

Grade: C