Atlanta Falcons line is the primary catalyst for offense’s success

DKB221002008 cle vs atl

The Falcons are scoring over a touchdown more per game in 2022 compared to the first season under Arthur Smith — 25.8 points per game, good for 9th in the league. Atlanta’s offense has had back-to-back weeks eclipsing 200 rushing yards against the Browns and Seahawks on their way to two straight wins, highlighting the primary catalyst to the group’s success — the offensive line.

Coming into Week 4, Cordarrelle Patterson was the team’s leading rusher, but he went into the Cleveland game banged up. Despite ultimately playing, the veteran only received nine carries as the bulk of the touches went to Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley. Both backs carried the ball 10 times last Sunday, combining for 140 yards on the ground.

The rookie out of BYU led the way with 84 yards, while Huntley added another 56 yards and a touchdown. Following the game, both running backs credited the big uglies up front for all their success.

“Couldn’t do it without the offensive line, receivers blocking. That’s a 1/11th in an all 11 team,” Allgeier said. “We just fed off each other.”

“They were blowing them boys off the ball,” Huntley said. “Shoot, I can go eat away with this one. It was just a whole lot of space and took advantage of it.”

With Patterson landing on the IR, Huntley and Allgeier will be counted on to carry the load for the Falcons’ rushing attack. It’s an excellent opportunity for two young, bruising backs.

Granted, the Browns were missing arguably the best defender in the league in Myles Garrett along with Jadeveon Clowney, which would’ve made a significant difference in this one. But that’s not taking anything away from Atlanta’s offensive line.

Three of the Falcons’ five highest-graded offensive players came along the line — Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, and Drew Dalman. McGary has completely turned it around this season after not having his fifth-year option picked up this offseason. He’s been solid in pass protection and even more impressive in the run game. Dalman has been an undeniable improvement over Matt Hennessy, along with Elijah Wilkinson, compared to Jalen Mayfield at left guard. Those are also significant factors in the group’s turnaround. But the star of the unit is Lindstrom.

He was the highest graded member of the Falcons in Week 4, and through the league’s first four games, he’s PFF’s second-best offensive linemen — not just guards — as well as the highest-graded run-blocker along with Andrew Thomas of the Giants. Lindstrom is most valuable as a run blocker but is reliable in pass sets, too, only allowing one pressure in 20 pass-blocking snaps against the Browns.

Moreover, in one of the most stunning stats of the 2022 season, the Falcons lead the entire league in yards before first contact per attempt (2.64). Want some more mind-blowing stats? The Falcons’ starting five ranks fifth in the league on true pass sets through Week 4 by PFF — no play action, no screens, etc. In 2021, Atlanta boasted three of the nine worst pass protectors in the league — Mayfield, McGary, and Hennessy. That is quite an astonishing turnaround in just one offseason.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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