The plethora of weapons Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has at his disposal makes his job a lot easier. Two Pro-Bowl wide receivers on the outside, a future Hall-of-Famer at tight end, and a newly signed running back who’s going for his ninth straight 1,000 yard campaign should be enough for Matt Ryan to move his team down the field and score. Just take the snap and pick a target. It should be that easy, right?
The Falcons found out Sunday it’s not that easy, especially with a not-so-stellar offensive line. The guys up front for Atlanta’s offense are a relatively new bunch for Mike Smith’s offense. Not that all of the offensive linemen are new to the team, just that they haven’t had time playing together as a unit.
After losing starting right tackle Tyson Clabo to free agency, the offensive line suffered another lose in training camp. Mike Johnson, the man set to replace Clabo on the line, dislocated his fibula forcing Smith to place Johnson on season-ending IR. Smith was forced to replace his replacement, something team general manager Thomas Dimitroff did not have in mind when he let Clabo walk away during free agency in order to free up cap space.
The birds are turning to second year player Lamar Holmes to fill the hole at right tackle. Holmes only played in one game as a rookie due to a foot stress fracture.
Garrett Reynolds is another relatively new member of the starting offensive line. Reynolds has only started 14 games in five years of NFL service.
With question marks looming over the offensive line heading into Atlanta’s week one matchup in New Orleans, Matt Ryan felt the pain of a defensive front being in his face for most of the game. Constant pressure forced poor attempts from Ryan. The final play for Atlanta’s offense came in the final minute on 4th and goal from the 4-yard line. The Saints dropped back in coverage and only sent four pass rushers, but were still able to force a bad throw from Ryan.
If Atlanta’s offensive line does not correct the problems we saw in week one, the Falcons could have a tough time being a serious contender in the NFC.