The Falcons used two first-round picks on offensive linemen, and two of their three largest free agent purchases were on offensive linemen, and it’s easy to see why. They weren’t good enough in that area of the team last year.
Too often Matt Ryan was getting hit, and too often the running backs were getting nailed in the backfield.
The struggles were particularly glaring around the goal line. The Falcons ran the ball 16 times when they were inside the 5, and those plays generated a grand total of -1 rushing yards. They couldn’t move anyone off the ball, and their running backs weren’t good enough to do it on their own.
|RUSHING INSIDE THE 5 (TEAMS)|
Help is on the way. They drafted Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in the first round. I saw a story go by last week suggesting Lindstrom has been exceeding expectations so far.
They also signed James Carpenter and Jamon Brown to contracts averaging a combined $11.5 million per year. With Carpenter, Lindstrom, McGary, Jake Matthews and Alex Mack, the Falcons at some point should become the only team in the league starting five offensive linemen who were all first-round draft picks.
The line will be better, and I think that will translate into better offensive results. I’m very interested in Matt Ryan; I think he’ll be about as good as any quarterback this year. Mahomes, Luck … all of them.
And I like Devonta Freeman (pictured). He was hurt for most of last year, of course. If he stays healthy this year, he might put up top-10 running back numbers. He should be a lot more effective around the goal line than their running backs were last year.