With this season pretty much in the books, its about that time the Atlanta Falcons‘ front office to reflect on past, present and even future decision and wondering if some of them were the right choices. As the Falcons are witnessing an offensive line that not even Barry Sanders could run behind, one can only imagine what life would have been like if they retained even one of their former players.
It is truly a mystery just how bad the Falcons offensive line went from being one of the best and dominant crew into being one of the worst in the NFL. In Matt Ryan’s rookie year, the Dirty Birds led the NFL behind then-running back Michael Turner into being one of the elite rushing team from 2008-11. Even during the down years of Turner in 2012, he still managed to rush for 800 yards, as the team managed to rush over 1,300 yards on the ground that year.
In 2013, the Falcons are gaining only 63 yards per game, which ranks them dead last in the NFL. The Falcons have not only been unable to run the ball, but their inability to protect Ryan has left him vulnerable to some big hits. Although like every team, certain players had to be either let go or traded because of financial situations.
With that being said, the Falcons have allowed some key members of their once dominant line to be signed by other teams, while others simply retired. In 2013, the Falcons starting five up front were Sam Baker (LT), Justin Blalock (LG), Peter Konz (C), Garrett Reynolds (RG) and Jeremy Trueblood (RT).
While Baker and Blalock were the two players that the Falcons were able to retain, the team lost Pro Bowlers in guard Harvy Dahl, tackle Tyson Clabo and Hall of Fame center in Todd McClure. In other words, the Dirty Birds lost their whole right side, but the one that hurts them the most was losing McClure, as he retired from the NFL.
The Falcons simply was not able to keep all of their players because of money constraints, and have failed to replace them with the same type of players up to their predecessor’s caliber. Replacing the Hall of Fame center was Konz, who has shown inconsistency at the point of attack and has been getting mauled at the line of scrimmage. With Dahl and Clabo gone through free agency, Reynolds and Mike Johnson before he got hurt didn’t look too promising.
As the Falcons look ahead to the rest of their pathetic season, there is no doubt in my mind that the front office would have liked to make more of an effort in retaining some of their more talented linemen. In the end, the Falcons decided to let them walk and will now have to deal with a mediocre line that cannot do anything as of late.
With this being said, the Falcons, especially Mattie Ice, desperately miss their former linemen and could sure use their help this year.