The week 5 audit of the Falcons offensive line is going to look a whole heck of a lot better than it did in week 4 against the Carolina Panthers. Instead of giving up 7 sacks they way they did against the Panthers, the Falcons only surrendered one to the Redskins. Instead of allowing the defense to pummel Matt Ryan, the offensive line only gave up three quarterback hits. Those aren’t bad totals at all. And more than anything, Ryan wasn’t under siege throughout the day.
The offense struggled early in the matchup against the Redskins, but that had a lot to do with the complex coverages that Washington dropped, and the great way they disguised those coverages and disrupted the passing game. Give a lot of credit to their cornerbacks and safeties for playing the receivers really well and not giving up much in the passing game early. They really disrupted their passing plays. Matt Ryan also didn’t help himself by throwing an interception on a screen pass or a fumbled center-quarterback exchange. Those issues were really problematic for the offense early.
The offensive line, however, was not the culprit. Todd McClure gave up a sack off play-action on the cusp of the red-zone to Barry Cofield early in the fourth quarter which forced the Falcons to kick a field goal rather than give themselves a shot at a touchdown. That certainly hurt, and then the same guy who got the sack knocked down a pass. That isn’t really the offensive line’s fault. The sack is, but it wasn’t like Ryan was constantly under duress throughout the day. The line was doing their best to protect Ryan and also run block, and they looked it.
It’s important to note that Tyson Clabo was matched up for most of the day against Ryan Kerrigan, Washington’s outside linebacker and best pass-rusher. Where he failed often against the Panthers, he kept Kerrigan in check for the most part. He looked healthy, and that’s a huge deal for Atlanta. If he is healthy, their line looks so much better.
Sam Baker continues to impress. I haven’t heard his name called in weeks, and that’s a great, great thing. The best thing you can say about an offensive lineman is that you don’t hear his name called during a broadcast, as it’s usually a bad thing when commentators are talking about him. Baker is fading into the line and playing extremely well. He’s a major reason why Ryan is having such great success this season.