Atlanta Falcons five breakout players of 2015 – #5


Today, we continue the final few additions of “Falcons 50”, continuing with our look at the five potential breakout players for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. Who’s at five?

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50″ posts here.

The “Falcons 50” countdown has entered it’s final stretch. We are counting down the Atlanta Falcons’ top five potential breakout players for this season, which is fitting as we enter the final few days of the offseason. Who is at No. 5?

No. 5 – Jake Matthews

Jake Matthews’ first season in the league was close to a disaster due to injuries. Expect his sophomore season to be a lot better with the Atlanta Falcons.

Matthews started 2014 with decent performances on the field for a rookie. Unfortunately, an ankle sprain derailed his season and abysmal play followed in the following weeks. The injury probably didn’t heal as it should have, and the previous staff only rested the offensive tackle for a game. The Falcons picked the Texas A&M alumni with the sixth overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft, and the expectations were through the roof, but the results on the field ended up being deceiving to say the least.

A positive sign for Matthews should be how he looked deeper into the season. He came back from his ankle injury pretty well and showed the qualities the team was expecting from him at the time. His play was average and Matthews provided a good push on the offensive line.

Some fans quickly took Matthews out and labeled him a “bust”. This status is completely undeserved, in my opinion. The transition from the collegiate level to the pros on the offensive line could be considered the hardest of all positions. It is very rare to see an offensive lineman successful in the NFL immediately. It usually takes a couple years to maximize his potential.

It would be reasonable to expect a big improvement from Matthews in year two. But there is a huge downside. He suffered a Lisfranc injury during the last regular season game in December, arguably one of the worst leg/feet injuries. Coming back from such an injury takes a lot of time. Matthews only rejoined the team in the middle of the training camp and was limited for most of the time.

Dan Quinn’s coaching staff adopted a conservative schedule to ease back injured players to the team. Matthews reclaimed his starting spot on the offensive line but played only a few snaps during the preseason games. The good news is Matthews’ level of play was pretty good considering the Lisfranc injury.

It is fair to expect a good rebounding season for the second-year offensive tackle. The Atlanta Falcons will absolutely need him to play at a better level in order to anchor the offensive line – arguably the biggest hole on the roster as of today.

Stay tuned for No. 4 tomorrow.

Next: Falcons vs Eagles: Tale of the tape