The Atlanta Falcons look to have a season full of turnarounds in 2015. While new Head Coach Dan Quinn expects his team to improve in all facets of the game, perhaps the area most contingent on the Falcons’ success in 2015 is their play on the offensive line.
Our Atlanta Falcons play in a division that doesn’t feature a great offensive line. Tampa Bay’s is very much a work in progress. Though the New Orleans Saints acquired Max Unger in the Jimmy Graham trade with the Seattle Seahawks, they still have issues up front. And the Carolina Panthers is decent, but not great. They tend to get away with some of their inefficiencies due to QB Cam Newton‘s mobility at his size.
Kyle Shanahan brings in his zone blocking scheme in hopes that it will establish a sound running game for the Atlanta Falcons. Even though Mike Tice was a great coach for the Falcons last year, too often did I see Atlanta’s offensive linemen be out of position due to lousy footwork. While most Shanahan offenses can run the ball with authority, should Kyle be concerned with his players’ health up front?
After yesterday’s training camp session, HC Dan Quinn expressed his happiness of having LT Jake Matthews, C Joe Hawley and G Peter Konz back participating in some capacity at practice. All three offensive lineman missed significant time during Minicamp and OTA’s due to lingering injuries. Even with all three back, T Lamar Holmes is on the PUP List.
Though I expect QB Matt Ryan to continue to move the chains with his arm in the Atlanta Falcons’ premier aerial attack, it’s concerning to hear about the offensive line’s health issues already. Matt Ryan cannot afford to get thrown around like a rag doll in 2015 due to mediocre play from his offensive line again. And with a new offensive system, every snap for the unit is crucial.
That being said, I do think that the Atlanta Falcons have depth on the offensive line this year due to many reserves having to play a bunch due to last year’s injuries. Guys like C James Stone, RT Ryan Schraeder, and OT Lamar Holmes have ample NFL experience and hope to build on last year’s results.
But you can’t underestimate continuity and repetitions in a new blocking scheme. While I do see guys like Chris Chester and Mike Person aid in the understanding of ZBS concepts with their new team, the Atlanta Falcons are going to need a healthy training camp and preseason for their offensive line. Otherwise the Dirty Birds will finish the season below .500 for the third consecutive year.
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