Kaleb McGary started all 17 games, and one thing you can say about him is that he’s durable. He played 989 offensive snaps and had only three penalties – a holding and two false starts.
However, McGary had a 62.4 (F) blocking grade from Pro Football Focus and allowed nine sacks, which was tied for second in the NFL among tackles.
Matthews played 1,029 snaps, it was the fifth consecutive year that he’s played over 1,000. He finished with seven penalties, three holding calls and four false starts. He allowed three sacks and had a 71.4, a C, by PFF.
Lindstrom played 1,037 offensive snaps and did not allow a sack. He had two penalties, a false start and an ineligible man downfield on an RPO. He finished with a 84.1 (B) grade from PFF.
Rookie left guard Jalen Mayfield had a bumpy start in the season opener, but after a week of practice the Falcons elected to stay with the third-round pick from Michigan.
Mayfield played 989 snaps on offense and led the league in sacks allowed by a guard, with 11. He also had nine penalties, which normally were drive killers for a team that couldn’t run the ball and was short on playmakers.
Mayfield had a 49.3 (F) grade from PFF, and Colby Gossett started the regular-season finale for Mayfield.
Matt Hennessy was the starting center, but in Week 12 the Falcons tried to play rookie Drew Dalman. The rotation lasted for a game and half. Hennessy finished the season as the starter.
Hennessy played 911 snaps and had five penalties and allowed three sacks. He finished with a 77 (C) grade from PFF.
Dalman, in a small sample size of 68 plays, had a 78.3 grade.
Against Jacksonville, Hennessy played 40 of the 60 offensive snaps (67%) and Dalman played 20 snaps (33%). The plan was for Hennessy to play two series and then Dalman to play two series.
In the 2020 draft, the Falcons passed on LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry, who went to the Denver Broncos five picks after the Falcons drafted Hennessy. Cushenberry has started 32 consecutive games and was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s all-rookie team last season.
However, Cushenberry had a 64 (F) grade this season and allowed five sacks.
Veteran Josh Andrews, who was the top left guard before suffering a hand injury right before the start of the season, did not play any offensive snaps and played in only two games on special teams.
Also, guard Matt Gono, suffered a serious injury that kept him out of the entire season.
Jason Spriggs, a former high pick of the Packers, ended the season as the swing tackle.
Behind this group, the Falcons couldn’t run the ball, as they finished 31st in the league at 85.4 yards per game.
They also couldn’t protect the passer, as Matt Ryan was sacked 40 times. It was the fourth consecutive season that the Falcons have allowed Ryan to be sacked 40 or more times.
Smith didn’t want to single out the line for their poor season when asked about them directly.
“We need to be better all around,” Smith said. “There’s multiple ways you can improve the fronts. We’ve got to improve this whole team as we climb.”
If they don’t improve the offensive line, there will be no returned to the playoffs nor the sustained winning that the new regime talks about.
FALCONS O-LINE GRADES
Source: Pro Football Focus
Atlanta Falcons’ position-by-position analysis:
Part 1: Running backs
Part 2: Quarterbacks
Part 3: Wide Receivers/Tight ends
Part 4: Offensive line
Part 5: Defensive line
Part 6: Linebackers
Part 7: Defensive backs
Part 8: Special teams
The Bow Tie Chronicles