All Falcons fans realise at the moment, that the issue with the thus far stuttering offense has been the pass protection issues of the Falcons’ offensive line.
In 2010 conceded 23 sacks, an average of 1.43 a game, which was good enough for 3rd best in the NFL.
In 2011 after 3 games, the Falcons have conceded 11 sacks, an average of 3.67 a game, giving Atlanta the 3rd worst total in the NFL.
Why has things changed so rapidly? What can the Falcons do to change things?
The obvious rational behind why things have changed, is the shakeup in personnel. Guard Harvey Dahl left to go to St Louis, which left Garrett Reynolds to step in at RG. Now before anyone jumps to a conclusion, the Falcons are not suddenly worse in pass protection because of Harvey Dahl’s departure. In theory actually they should be better as Dahl was the worst O-Lineman in pass protection last year.
Having said this Reynolds is not much better in pass protection, at least at the Guard spot. Reynolds is more suited at Right tackle where his long frame and arms are of benefit to him, where as having long arms actually hinders him at Guard. This was particularly noticeable against Eagles DT Cullen Jenkins, where he was able to attack Reynolds quickly on pass plays, which enabled him to get instant leverage and making easy to perform a swim move on him and get into the backfield.
With Reynolds not performing at that spot, expect Guard Mike Johnson to start against the Seahwaks. He is a more natural Guard and to be honest is more talented than Reynolds. Having said that this alone will not cure this Offensive Line.
As readers of this blog, will know I am not Sam Baker’s biggest fan. If his poor play continues,what do the Falcons do? A pretty outlandish idea would be to switch the two tackles around, stick Clabo at LT and Baker at RT, Or even put Reynolds back in at his natural RT.
I realise Clabo is not the most athletic Offensive Tackle in the world and isn’t the best fit at LT but he at least exhibits some strength in his pass protection and for sure wouldn’t get pushed back like Baker has done the first couple of weeks. This would enable at least some kind of a pocket to be established and give Matt Ryan time to throw. In any case do not expect a major shake – up like I have suggested for at least another few weeks. The current regime drafted Baker and for that reason will give him a couple more chances than he deserves to succeed.
Regardless of what the Falcons do to the O-Line personnel wise it comes down to cohesion. Having all of the O-Line is sync, knowing who is blocking who is imperative to the success of any NFL Offensive Line. This will not happen over night it is something that will be developed over time. All i can say is it needs to be done soon, Matt Ryan’s health depends on it.
In any case do not expect a major shake – up like I have suggested for at least another few weeks. The current regime drafted Baker and for that reason will give him a couple more chances than he deserves to succeed.
What do you guys think? What is wrong with the Falcons O – Line? How do we change it?