Atlanta's offensive line is one of the elite units in the league. (source: YardBarker)

Falcons O-Line is 4th Best in NFL



(source: YardBarker)

From Yahoo’s Jason Cole:

4. Atlanta Falcons: Falcons linemen like to joke about their lack of talent. Really, it’s a rallying cry for them to work together. While it’s true that this group doesn’t have overwhelming talent, it works together in much the same way that New England’s unit thrives. If left tackle Sam Baker and third-round guard Mike Johnson progress, the Falcons will solidify this spot.

Cole has been ranking each position starting with the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers.

The Falcons have rated in the top half of the league in every position so far. Wide Receivers – 8th. Running Backs – 7th. Quarterbacks – 15th.

Hit the jump to see how the rest of the NFC South fared.

1. New Orleans Saints: There were only two teams that ranked in the top 10 of both run and pass-blocking efficiency last year according to Football Outsiders. It should be no surprise that those teams rank in the top two spots. Then again, it’s a delicate situation. The Saints were clearly the best unit in the league last year, led by guard Jahri Evans, who many people believe has surpassed Minnesota’s Steve Hutchinson(notes) as the best interior offensive linemen in the NFL. But the real key is that this group works very well together and is consistent at creating space for Drew Brees to step up or keeping defensive linemen from getting in his face quickly (Brees is susceptible to batted passes because he’s only 6-feet tall). The running game is still something of a mirage, but this group makes it work.

19. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers were the definition of mediocrity last season on the line, ranking No. 17 in both run and pass blocking. The group is probably a little better than that, given how good the running game was last season despite the collapse of quarterback Jake Delhomme. The good news is that the talent is there for significant improvement with the likes of left tackle Jordan Gross, left guard Travelle Wharton, center Ryan Khalil and right guard Jeff Otah. It’s easy to see that this group could jump six or seven spots.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs were awful when it came to running the ball (No. 31 overall in run efficiency), but really did a pretty good job of keeping the quarterback clean (No. 11 in pass blocking). They did that despite the carousel of quarterbacks that started with Byron Leftwich and ended with rookie Josh Freeman. There’s still a long way to go, but the group is steady and anchored by center Jeff Faine and guard Davin Joseph.

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Jason Cole Team Rankings Yahoo Sports

  • Ed

    Hello Troy,

    I looked at Madden’s player rankings just for giggles and farts. He lists Jared Gaither as one of his top right tackles, but he only played left tackle when he wasn’t hurt. Michael Oher, who wasn’t even listed, played right tackle and filled in at left tackle when Gaither was out with injuries. Michael Oher was drafted #16, but in the 2009 hindsight 20/20 draft he was listed at #1 based on his on field performance. Go figure.

  • Ed

    Looks like the Steelers might be losing their right tackle for the year.

    • http://bloggingdirty.com/ Troy Heinzman

      Huge blow for them. That’s four players so far that have suffered season-ending injuries this off-season. Crushing for some teams.

      • Ed

        The Steelers lost two so far. Was one of those four the Giants draft pick in the car wreck? Isn’t that two for the Giants as well?

        • http://bloggingdirty.com/ Troy Heinzman

          You’re right. From Adam Schefter: “This off-season, LB Thomas Davis, S Marlin Jackson, WR Limas Sweed and OT Willie Colon all have suffered season-ending injuries.” But then he added: “Don’t forget WR/KR Domenik Hixon and (very sadly) S Chad Jones. … And Titans CB Rod Hood.”

          Preseason injuries can be crushing for a team’s morale.