Was the Atlanta Falcons offensive line play perfect on Monday night against the Denver Broncos? No, not by a long shot. They surrendered a good amount of pressures, allowed Matt Ryan to get hit a few times, and even get sacked towards the end of the game. Seeing Matt Ryan have to scramble doesn’t exactly fill my heart with joy.
Did this Atlanta Falcons offensive line play extremely well, shockingly well, on Monday night against the Denver Broncos? Absolutely.
Going into the game, I honestly thought the Falcons were going to be terribly mismatched. Tyson Clabo was going to be matched up one-on-one all day against Von Miller, and while he is a tremendous tackle, Von Miller is also a Pro Bowl player, and reigning defensive rookie of the year. I was most concerned with the matchup of Sam Baker on Elvis Dumervil. Baker played left tackle last year and looked absolutely atrocious. Yes, he was injured, but he never looked outstanding. Even though he played well against an undermanned Kansas City defense, how in the world would he hold up against Dumervil, another Pro Bowl pass rusher who registered 9.5 sacks last year?
The answer: extremely well. There were a couple times where Von Miller started beating Clabo, but because of Ryan stepping in the correct direction and getting rid of the ball quickly, eliminated a big hit or a sack. Clabo had his hands full and played well.
Sam Baker on the other hand, looked like the player we drafted him to be. Dumervil’s line on the game was two tackles and 1 assisted tackle. That’s it. No sacks, no nothing. Baker even passed the eyeball test, as he consistently kept Dumervil right in front of him, didn’t surrender the edge to the pass-rusher, didn’t surrender much ground to the defensive end, and played at a high level. If Baker continues to play this well against very-good-to-elite pass rushers, this Atlanta offense could really flourish.
Now, its only two games into the season. The Falcons will face another team, the San Diego Chargers, with two good pass rushers in OLBs Shaun Phillips and rookie Melvin Ingram. This offensive line needs to continue to be healthy, and while healthy prove they can consistently protect Matt Ryan over the course of the season. If what we have seen over the first two games, especially against a very good Denver Broncos front seven, continues, this Matt Ryan will have time to work in the pocket, and we will have more confidence in what this offense can do. The more things the Falcons can do offensively makes them just that much more potent.