With Pro Bowlers Todd McClure and Tyson Clabo gone, along with Mike Johnson out for the entire year, the Atlanta Falcons‘ offensive line has had some growing pains and continues to learn the hard way about being an elite unit up front.
As the New Orleans Saints defeated the Falcons 23-17 in a game that came down to the wire, Matt Ryan was constantly on the move, dodging Saints tacklers left and right. Though the Falcons are one of the few teams that boast an electrifying offense, Falcons fans are quickly learning that their porous offensive line is too great of a hole to cover up.
Against the Saints, the Falcons’ offensive line was outstanding at times, as they gave Ryan time to scout coverages and pick apart a Saints’ defense that hasn’t been the same since the infamous Bounty Scandal. As the game went on, however, it was only time before the Saints’ defense was fed up and attacked the Falcons as if they put a bounty on their heads … in a legal way of course.
Mattie Ice was sacked three times by Junior Galette, Akiem Hicks and Parys Haralson. If Ryan wasn’t busy being tackled to the ground and seeing the turf with courtside seats, he was scrambling for his life as if blood was in the water and he was surrounded by hungry great white sharks.
With Ryan not having time to find his receivers, the Falcons had to settle for a field goal in the third quarter instead of ending their drive with a much-needed touchdown.
Second-year center Peter Konz admits that his unit is indeed in transition mode in terms of adjusting to life without two key starters from last years’ squad. He believes that they are getting better, and that it will take some time for them to become a cohesive offensive line.
No matter how much of an offensive league the NFL becomes, if teams do not have a good offensive line, it will be pretty difficult to execute any type of offense regardless of who your quarterback is. Coach Mike Smith has his work cut out for him, and for Ryan’s sake, the Falcons will want to make sure that their $100 million investment doesn’t become a regular human piñata in 2013.
No pain, no gain. Though the Falcons’ offensive line continues to get beat up and learn the hard way, the only way they can go is up. The offensive line will play a vital role if the Falcons plan on having any type of success in 2013.