An offseason guide on how to reconstruct the offensive line


A lot went wrong for the Falcons last season. More than anything, the biggest weakness was the offensive line. The Falcons allowed 44 sacks last year. That number doesn’t even count the abundant pressures or hurries on the quarterback. Because of the poor pass protection, Matt Ryan was hit more times in 2013 than in any other season. Additionally the running attack suffered from the weak offensive line. The offense managed just 1247 yards on the season, ranking as the team 32nd in the league. It is nearly impossible to win with these numbers. Even with the struggles on defense and the abundance of injuries, Atlanta was beaten largely thanks to the offensive front in nearly every single loss.

Looking at the play of the line, it is easy to see why the Falcons were dead last in rushing yardage. Yes, the team was hurt by the injury to running back Steven Jackson, but there is no reason they should have been worst in the entire NFL. Atlanta was also among the most unbalanced teams thanks to this blatant weakness. It is very hard to be successful when so imbalanced. The numbers don’t lie here. The group was awful according to the stats, and things were even worse going by the eye test. The line rarely provided any push or presence. Matt Ryan was constantly under attack. The team could never find the necessary push in short yardage situations, and most success was done despite adequate protection. So then, the team made the offensive line a top priority in the offseason. Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith have been busy attempting to rebuild the line, addressing both run blocking and pass blocking. The Falcons have overhauled the group by bringing in a highly sought after free agent and a retaining a few trusted veterans. Even with the sub-par play of the line 2013, things are getting better in Atlanta as the rebuilding continues. The Falcons made a big splash to open up free agency by signing Jon Asamoah. Asamoah left the Chiefs to become the new right guard in Atlanta. The big guard is aggressive and powerful. The team is in great need of a presence up front. Hopefully the soft-spoken and reserved Asamoah, along with his feisty mean-streak, can provide such a presence. At guard, he is expected to finally make holes for Steven Jackson and the running game. Asamoah also has the reputation of being a very good pass blocker.

This signing gives the Falcons a boost on the front. Asamoah is a major piece in the restructuring of the line. He and his new team are hoping for big turnaround. The newly acquired Illinois product told the team’s website: “Nothing is better than having an offense that can march up and down the field. With the weapons we have and the guys that we have on the offense [we can do that]. Since I’ve gotten here I’ve heard about just how good these guys are.” First and foremost, success will be based on the protection of these premier weapons. Asamoah continued this thought, saying, “Everyone has stressed to me that we have to keep them upright. That has to be goal number one.” In addition to the Asamoah signing, the Falcons are looking to solidify the other spots of the line. The team is very hopeful that left tackle Sam Baker will have a healthy campaign in 2013. The former first-rounder has struggled with consistency and injuries during his tenure. But he has been a great asset when at his full potential. With Baker healthy, the line could see a huge boost. Additionally, the team will rely on veterans like Justin Blalock and Joe Hawley in the middle.

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  • Jim

    Wow! I like your optimism but I am not sold on Sam Baker or Mike Johnson. Both have missed more games in their careers than they have played, or so it seems. Holmes and Konz have thus far provided no reason for optimism. Holmes looks lost most of the time and Konz looks simply overmatched. Asamoah looks like he could be the answer at RG and Blalock is solid at LG. I was hoping Atlanta could draft Clowney or Mack in the 1st round as their D needs some umph in their pass rush. I have about decided they would be better off going with Robinson, Matthews, or Lewan as keeping Matt Ryan from being road kill is of the utmost importance. It wouldn’t hurt to invest in another OL in addition to one of the above mentioned three.