The Falcons announced earlier today that Offensive Tackle Lamar Holmes has been diagnosed with a broken foot. It is unclear how severe the injury is, but considering Holmes missed all of last season with a foot injury, it does not look good. The Falcons recently just cut another Offensive Tackle in Sam Baker. Baker spent the majority of the last two seasons on IR after a tremendous 2012 season landed him a huge contract. Last season, the Falcons had uncanny amount of injuries on the offensive line. People might even remember Week 4, when the Falcons were forced to play Levine Toilolo at right tackle due to injuries. Pro Football Focus (PFF) had the Falcons offensive line ranked 30th in 2014. After taking a look at what has happened the last few days, are the Falcons going to pay this year for their lack of focus on the offensive line in the offseason?
The Falcons opened up free agency addressing the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons defense was atrocious last season, and I agree it needed to be priority number one heading into free agency, but the Falcons completely ignored some huge holes that needed to be filled on the line. However, the Falcons still had the opportunity to fill these holes through the draft. Unfortunately, there was no offensive line pick selected until the 7th round. They took Jake Rodgers out of Eastern Washington. Rodgers is at best a reserve in the NFL and will have little to no impact in the 2015 season. The Falcons did sign 2 offensive linemen later in the offseason.
Offensive tackle Tyler Polombus was signed to a one year deal on May 14th. Polumbus came over from the Redskins organization where he was coached by OC Kyle Shanahan, the current Falcons OC. Shanahan is known for his complex zone blocking scheme. The adjustment to the ZBS can be difficult, so adding Polumbus, who knows the system, makes a lot of sense. However, Polumbus is far from any kind of answer to the line woes. He now will be the only one competing with Ryan Schraeder for the starting right tackle position. The Falcons addressed their biggest position of need on May 29th, signing offensive guard Chris Chester. Chester was also a former Redskin and is familiar with Shanahan’s ZBS. He will, in all likelihood, be an opening day starter for the team. Chester was a nice veteran add and fills a huge hole, but he is far from anything special. PFF rated him as the 33rd best offensive guard in the league and showed him really struggling with his run blocking. Under Quinn and Shanahan, the Falcons are going to attempt to revamp the running game that has been missing, and the line must improve for that to happen. Chester is a serviceable add, but not the answer to the Falcons line troubles.
Unfortunately, the Falcons are now left with very few options. Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis was just recently cut by the Eagles, but with the Julio Jones contract extension looming and with other holes needing to be filled, it would be suprising to see the Falcons spend the kind of money necessary to lure Mathis to Atlanta. So it seems the Falcons will be sticking with the players they have and avoid making any significant changes. It is simple, no team is going to really compete for championships without being able to dominate the trenches. If Ryan cannot stay up or Coleman cannot find a hole, the season will be another disappointing one for the Falcons. The Falcons offensive line is one of the biggest question marks heading into the season, and with the losses of Baker and Holmes, it is not off to a great start.