Atlanta Falcons offensive line: Why it faltered on Sunday

Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Against the Carolina Panthers the Atlanta Falcons did almost everything right, but it was their offensive line which was outmatched on Sunday.

Good news first: Even when the Atlanta Falcons' offensive line allows Matt Ryan to be sacked six times, he's still able ot throw for over 300 yards and multiple TDs. Bad news: This Carolina Panthers team haven't had a lot of success rushing the passer in 2012.

Against the Atlanta Falcons, Sean McDermott, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator employed an uncomplicated scheme that seemed to befuddle Atlanta's offensive line with it's simplicity. There weren't any creative blitz packages, or pressure that came from different angles. It was simple as case of a front four getting the better of their offensive counterpart.

The catalyst for much of the Panthers pass rush was Charles Johnson. Last year Carolina made him one of the highest paid DEs in the NFL, but in 2012 he hadn't had a breakout game– until Atlanta came along. Johnson used a standard power rush to get the best of Tyson Clabo off the edge. What was concerning about Johnson wasn't the 3.5 sacks he totaled yesterday, but the lack of adjustment by the offense. Dirk Koetter did not use a tight end or fullback to help Clabo, and that was a serious lapse in judgment.

Across from Johnson it was on third year DE Greg Hardy and rookie Frank Alexander, who were rotated equally. Neither were as effective, but both were also able to rush effectively off the blindside. Much of the reason Matt Ryan had success in these situations was because of the weaknesses in the Panthers secondary, and not because of the offensive line success.

What does this all mean? In short, not a lot. It's hard to look on the downside of a victory, and one that takes the Falcons to 4-0, but this is something to watch moving forward. The lack of adjustment was concerning, but the Panthers were not an expected pass rushing team. When the Falcons see a team who have a more consistent rush they will need to adjust, and hopefully they learned from what went wrong yesterday.

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