Jake Matthews is not always appreciated as one of the better Falcons of the past decade, likely due to a injury-slowed rookie season and one very visible penalty in a very big game. To state the obvious, though, those are a tiny piece of Matthews’ career, and blemishes on what otherwise has been an underrated and quality career.
I was reminded of that on Sunday when I saw the below Tweet (X?), which in turn reminded me that Matthews has the longest active streak of consecutive starts in the NFL with 144. Matthews is one of just two players to start every game since 2015, the other being potential future Hall of Famer Jason Kelce. Given the fact that his dad Bruce has the fifth-longest consecutive starts streak in league history, it seems fitting that Matthews is currently working on a significant streak of his own.
Matthews has missed just one game in his NFL career and regularly grades out as anywhere from an above average-to-excellent tackle holding down the blindside for Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, and now Desmond Ridder. Known more for his pass protection than his run blocking throughout his career, Matthews has grown in that regard over time and as the offense demands it, and he has been a fixture on this line now through three coaching staffs and three starting quarterbacks. Last year, Matthews started every game and earned a quality 77.9 grade for his blocking, which placed him 16th among NFL tackles, with 25 tackles allowing more sacks and 31 being penalized more frequently in 2022. He’s the definition of a solid starter and is always available, and has been every single game for the past eight years.
Only a couple of tackles—the great Mike Kenn and Bob Whitfield—have played in more games or started more for the Falcons franchise. In short, Matthews has been what the Falcons hoped he would be when they drafted him in the top ten way back in 2014, give or a take a dose of elite play here and there. His career is likely to be best appreciated in hindsight, the way many stellar offensive linemen ultimately are.
We don’t know how much longer Matthews will be a fixture on this Falcons offensive line, but the team hopes it will be at least for one more season as Atlanta chases a playoff spot. If recent history is our guide, his reliability and ruggedness will be something the team can count on.