The Falcons are just over two weeks away from opening the 2021 season against the Philadelphia Eagles, and they haven’t named a starter between Jake Matthews and Matt Hennessy at left guard. For the majority of training camp and the preseason, it has been Josh Andrews with the first-team offense. I thought his competition, Jalen Mayfield, had an impressive game against the Dolphins, making me believe the position battle was closer than expected.
Even though Andrews has continually been getting reps with the first-team, I thought if Mayfield showed enough in pass protection, he’d win the job. It seems today during practice — the second-to-last open to the media — Mayfield was given snaps with the first-team offense. Michael Rothstein of ESPN reported today that at the end of practice in 11-on-11, both Andrews and Mayfield were given a series with Matt Ryan and the first-team offense.
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) August 26, 2021
This battle for left guard hasn’t quite worked itself out just yet, but with reports stating the starters will play Sunday night against the Browns, it’ll be very telling who gets the first nod. The first-team offense may get two series, so Andrews and Mayfield get their fair opportunity. It is impossible to assess either of these players objectively without putting them in similar scenarios to compare directly. Regardless, whoever wins the job will be in for a rude awakening to start the season as the Falcons face arguably 11 of the top 30 interior defensive linemen the league has to offer.
Regardless of who starts, that player better be ready because there is a gauntlet of interior defenders awaiting him during the first quarter or so of the season. Beginning with the Eagles, the starter will have to handle Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. Then against the Buccanneers, the left guard will draw Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, and William Gholston. In Week 3 against the Giants, he will be across from Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. The following week, the Falcons host Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne of the Washington Football Team, and it doesn’t end there. In Week 5, the Falcons face Quinnen Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi of the Jets.