Falcons’ offensive line must rebound

The Falcons’ offensive line, which has been shaky in pass protection during the six-game losing streak, must rise up and turn in a solid showing against Jacksonville.

The Jaguars were stumbling about against Indianapolis until defensive end Andre Branch broke loose for a sack and forced fumble that he returned 49 yards for a touchdown to start the 51-point outburst. The Jaguars were trailing 13-3 until Branch ignited them.

The Falcons' offensive line must avoid such game-changing plays. The Jaguars have 32 sacks, which is tied for 14th in the NFL.

“It’s similar to our defense, so we’ve seen some of that,” Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews said. “They are real physical. That is for sure.”

The Falcons’ line wasn’t built to pass block. It’s an outside zone blocking line that needs to run the ball effectively to slow pass rushers.

When the they don’t run the ball well, it’s open season on the quarterback, like last week, when the line gave up five sacks and 11 quarterback hits.

“Any time a defense makes you one dimensional, it’s going to be hard to win,” Matthews said. “We have to start running the ball like we were earlier in the year. That’s going to help us a lot.”

Jacksonville gives up 102.4 yards per game, 13th in the league.

“They do a really good job against the run,” Matthews said. “It’s going to be a challenge for us to get after it in the run game. I’m excited about going out there and giving it a shot. I feel confident about it. We have got to get rolling.”

The Falcons practiced in pads on Wednesday with the hope of jump-starting the run game.