Massive overhaul coming to 2019 Falcons OL?

Quinn: 'I'm comfortable at C and LT, past that, you scrub every bit of it.'

Knox Bardeen
January 03, 2019 - 3:07 pm
Atlanta Falcons center Alex Mack, offensive guard Ben Garland, and offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder

© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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The Atlanta Falcons ranked 27th in 2018 with 1,573 rushing yards as a team and only rushed the ball 351 times from scrimmage (30th in the NFL). For a team that for years has chased a 50-50 run-pass balance for optimum offensive output, the Falcons’ 45-55 run-pass balance in 2018 fell short to desired plans and Atlanta’s inability to win battles in the trenches was one of the reasons why Matt Ryan had to throw the football so much.

When head coach Dan Quinn was asked what his top priority is for the Falcons as the offseason begins, Quinn didn’t hesitate.

"The identity of the physicality we'd like to play with,” said Quinn to Dave Archer and Wes Durham on the Dan Quinn Coaches Show Thursday.

Archer told Quinn that “physicality can manifest itself in different ways, but No. 1 is coming off the ball and hitting people in the mouth in the run game.” Archer continued that he knew getting back to that was a priority for the Falcons.

Quinn agreed quickly and added that improving the run game will help the Atlanta offense in 2019 in many facets.

“The run game closes the entire circle of toughness on your team,” said the Falcons head coach. “The better you're able to run it, the better your defense is going to be able to stop the run. I think those things go hand in hand. They [the offensive and defensive lines] battle each other every day, they get after it against one another and it gets them sharper and stronger as the season progresses.

“The best teams usually get better as they go and in this year's case we had the difficult stretch in the middle where we did not. That, more than anything, is reminding me so clearly, you'd better have your line of scrimmage in order, both in the run game and run defense because the weapons outside are real and people always know that about the way we can attack offensively. But we'd better have all three phases of our physicality right.”

How do the Falcons plan to fix the run game for 2019? Quinn told Archer and Durham to expect subtle changes in how the team fights in the trenches.

“I think some technique, some scheme, some players, in some regard,” said Quinn on how to spark the Falcons run game. “I think it's a combination of all three to say ‘Who will take on a different role at some of those spots, especially among the offensive line, what tweaks to the scheme we will do?’

“We're not going to have any wholesale changes to a new system altogether. We've got real belief. The vision isn't changing it's just how do we want to feature that more, and that part will change.”

Without a new offensive coordinator in place at this time, it’s near impossible for Quinn to reveal what kind of scheme changes will occur, but he already has an idea on personnel along the 2019 offensive line.

"I'm comfortable at center and left tackle in the same way as you said,” said Quinn. “Past that, you scrub every bit of it. One of the projects we're going through with the staff now is we're all watching the season together, in order, on both sides of the ball together.

“I wanted the line's perspective the [offensive] line guys looking at the defense, the defensive guys looking with perspective at the offense. I thought, we'll grow as a staff during this moment of difficulty and knowing that everything is out there for everyone to see. Here's this light, here's what we're shining on it, this is the performance we put out together, so how do those moments change to say this should never happen to this Brotherhood again in terms of performing this year like we have and finishing with a losing record.”

So, in terms of revamping the offensive line, center Alex Mack and left tackle Jake Matthews are safe as productive members of the fighting force on offense at the line of scrimmage.

The positions of right guard, right tackle and left guard, well those could be position battles to watch during the Falcons’ offseason workouts.