After the Falcons gave up six sacks and failed to generate space in the run game in their latest loss, coach Dan Quinn is keeping all of his options open with the offensive line.
When assessing the performance of his offensive line, Quinn said the Falcons wouldn't be afraid to make changes if they were warranted. He also didn't exonerate the rest of the offense for their role in Sunday's outcome.
"Like most things, we're going to look at it," Quinn said of the offensive line. "If there are personnel moves to make, we'll certainly be bold enough to do that. But, more often than not, it seems like it's one [issue], but it's usually [more]. I don't think we played particularly well, offensively. [The offensive line] was the highlight, but there's a lot of factors I thought that went into it."
The Falcons (3-7) haven't had too much turnover along the offensive line this season. Their main five, consisting of Jake Matthews, James Carpenter, Alex Mack, Jamon Brown and Kaleb McGary, have started eight of Atlanta's 11 games this season.
Atlanta failed to move the ball consistently on offense during its 35-22 loss to Tampa Bay, however, and the offensive line had a notable part in that.
The Buccaneers entered the game boasting the No. 2 run defense in the country, and they proved to be as challenging as promised. Atlanta gained 57 yards on 19 carries and was forced to throw the ball more frequently after falling behind early in the third quarter.
With the Falcons becoming more one-dimensional on offense, the Buccaneers' pass rush came alive and ultimately sacked Matt Ryan six times and hitting him a total of 12 times.
A question was raised to Quinn during his Monday press conference: Who among the offensive linemen have you been pleased with for the duration of the season?
After pausing for a moment, Quinn named McGary, the team's second first-round pick in April's draft; Matthews, who was named to his first Pro Bowl after the 2018 season, and Mack, a six-time Pro Bowler. Unmentioned by Quinn were his left and right guards, Carpenter and Brown.
Pro Football Focus currently has Brown rated as the 57th-best guard in the NFL this season with a grade of 53.7, while Carpenter is rated 71st and has a grade of 44.7. Moving forward, the Falcons need to find more consistency in front of Ryan.
"Well I think that's the challenge to say, we want to find consistency," Quinn said. "And that's the hardest part of it game and game and game, and series and series and series. That's what we're going to keep continuing to battle for."
Reserve guard Wes Schweitzer played 32 snaps against the Buccaneers, taking over at right guard for Brown. Quinn said after the game that it was a planned effort to get Schweitzer snaps, and he may be a person the Falcons turn to if a shakeup is needed. He's already started two games for the Falcons this season.
Another option for Atlanta could be rookie Chris Lindstrom. The team's first-round pick was placed on injured reserve after hurting his foot in the Falcons' Week 1 loss to the Vikings. Although Lindstrom has yet to begin practicing, Quinn seemed optimistic that could change. Lindstrom, who was a starter for the season opener, could provide that stability the Falcons are looking for.
"I thought James has done a good job of battling through his injury and coming back on the other side of it stronger and ready to go," Quinn said. "We worked Wes in, obviously, some yesterday. And we'll see where we go with Chris. We're certainly hoping there's a chance that we would get him back in the near future and not too distant."
Of course, with the season unfolding the way it has been, some might argue it's not worth bringing Lindstrom back and risking re-injury with his foot. When it comes to a player's health, Quinn said he leaves that for those who know the medicine best.
"I would totally leave that to the medical staff," Quinn said. "If he is fully cleared and ready to do his thing, then he should go. He's put the work in, so you'd rather reward that work as opposed to pulling it back. But if there would be in his case, or any other player's, there was a chance he couldn't then that's our job [to say], 'Nope, that's where it ends.'"