Hot seat: Falcons’ offensive line must establish an identity

The Falcons' offensive line spent most of the offseason trying to reclaim its identity as a good run-blocking, outside zone unit.

The linemen will get their first test against a stout Seattle defensive front and will be on the hot seat to perform well in the season opener at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Falcons retained the same line, but rookie Matt Hennessy is expected to be worked into the line at left guard over the early course of the season. The Falcons also added running back Todd Gurley through free agency.

Explore5 keys to Falcons' 2020 season

Fox analyst Mark Schlereth, who played in the NFL and was a three-time Super Bowl champion as a guard, will call the Falcons' opener.

Schlereth, who was a 10th-round pick from Idaho, played with the Redskins (1989-94) and Broncos (1995-2000).

While preparing for the game, he didn’t like what he saw from the Falcons' 2019 offensive line.

“To me, they have to be better,” Schlereth said. “They have to be persistent. … It’s a fact that they’ve got to be more physical.”

Schlereth thinks the Falcons failed to establish an identity on offense and were enamored with doing too many things.

“I thought as I watched film from last year, I couldn’t tell you what they were,” Schlereth said. "Because I think there was, for me, watching the film, there is just a little too much volume. They were running too many things.

“Part of that is because you are trying to figure out over the course of the season what are we? Like what do I want to hang my hat on? ... What’s Todd Gurley? What he’s got left? What is he and how are you going to put him in a position to shine? How are we going to basically put our offensive line in the best possible position to execute?”

That may not change. Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the team installed 500 to 600 plays this offseason. They normally take only 100 into a game.

However many plays they have, Schlereth wants to see the offensive line move players “from point A to point B.”

“I want to spend a bunch of time doing one thing or two things and doing those things exceptionally well,” Schlereth said. “That’s one of the things as I look at the film, that I would be critical of the offense from last year.”


The Bow Tie Chronicles Podcasts:

Can be found on Google, iTunes and TuneIn

For more content about the Atlanta Falcons:

Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Have a question? Email me at