It’s October 1. The first month of the football season has come and gone. There is still a lot of football yet to be played. So it’s a little unusual to want to concede a season this early, but considering what happened to the Atlanta Falcons Tuesday that might be the only right thing to do.
You hate for injuries to be an excuse for a team to lose, and it’s not like the Falcons have even lost a lot – at least not yet. They are 2-2 on the season. But to lose their second and third starting offensive linemen for the season, along with arguably their best defensive player to injuries in one game is crushing.
To say the offensive line is now depleted is putting it mildly. Center Joe Hawley and tackle Lamar Holmes were both lost for the season Sunday in Minnesota. They join Sam Baker as offensive linemen that won’t suit up again this year.
The line was already a question coming into this season. Jake Matthews was brought in as a rookie to become a star. Now he’s more like the only one left.
Justin Blalock, the senior member of the offensive line, is still a concern with back trouble that knocked him out of the game with the Vikings. Blalock hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season in 2007, and if he can’t go this week in New York the Falcons will be in serious trouble.
So how will this Band-Aid offensive line protect quarterback Matt Ryan? How will it open holes for a running game that has already been less than spectacular?
It’s going to be tough. Matthews and right guard Jon Asamoah may be the only ones left from the projected line in August. Gabe Carimi and Peter Konz will probably now be starters replacing Holmes and Hawley, with Ryan Schraeder the new main backup.
Who can general manager Thomas Dimitroff bring off the streets this season? Remember, last year when Baker got hurt and Mike Johnson was already gone and they brought in Jeremy Trueblood off the waiver wire? That’s didn’t work out too well. This probably won’t either.
Good luck Matty Ice.
On top of that bad news we also learned that Atlanta safety William Moore, arguably the team’s best defensive player, will miss two months with a shoulder injury. This may actually be worse than the offensive line situation, since Moore was solid in his role as a leader of the secondary.
The Falcons defense showed Sunday why there are major concerns. They’ve been playing without Sean Weatherspoon, who was injured in June and is out for the season. Who can step up now with Moore gone and become an impact player? There isn’t one, or at least one hasn’t emerged yet to give fans hope that at some point this defense can stop a potent offense.
The Falcons have had trouble on the road so far. They’ve got a stretch coming up where they’ll play away from the Georgia Dome all but one time in the next six weeks.
But here’s what’s nut about their situation. As dire as it looks right now, the NFC South may be so bad that Atlanta may still actually have a chance. Both of their wins so far have come against division opponents, and if they survive this stretch until their London trip to play the Lions and then the bye week in early November, the Falcons could win some games against Tampa Bay and Carolina and still be in the race.
But it’s not going to be easy. Not many teams could withstand losing two more members of the offensive line, particularly a team that relies so much on its offense to win games. This may be the ultimate challenge for a team that didn’t need any more obstacles to getting back on track.
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