INDIANAPOLIS – In his first opportunity to address the media since the season ended, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn tackled a number of questions about his team.
And one of those topics was assessing the play of Atlanta's offensive line in which Quinn didn't waste any time beating around the bush about.
"It's no secret that guard is a spot that we are really digging into," Quinn said.
After a season in which every starter along the offensive line didn't miss a game in 2016, the Falcons were in need of a new starting right guard. Wes Schweitzer won the job in his second year, but the 2017 season would be one where he would need to do a lot of "on-the-job" training as Quinn often says given that he didn't take a snap in his first year with the team.
The group also had to deal with a significant triceps injury to Andy Levitre that forced him to miss multiple games and eventually land on IR for the first time in his career.
But through all of the shuffling the unit had to do at points, Quinn said he was pleased with the way his offensive line played in terms of pass protection. Matt Ryan was sacked 24 times, down 13 from the previous season. He was hit 87 times, though, which ranked 15th in league.
"With the explosiveness offensively, how did we hold up in pass protection? In a lot of regards that part was better in terms of giving up sacks and hits on the quarterback," Quinn said.
While that area the Falcons improved in, now Quinn wants more explosive plays in the run game, and that all starts in the trenches. The Falcons finished as the 13th ranked rushing team, averaging 115.4 yards a game.
"In the run game, how do we find ways to get our guys big plays, even more? That's a real challenge for us," Quinn said. "We're so committed to the way we run it. That's a real challenge for us. We're pretty pumped about our group – the way they work; the way they communicate together."
So will the Falcons continue to strengthen their offensive line, specifically at guard, through free agency or the draft?
Based off what general manager Thomas Dimitroff said about how the Falcons approach the draft and free agency, time will tell.
However, if the team decides to acquire a guard through the draft, here's what Quinn had to say about this year's offensive line prospects:
"We're going through the whole list," Quinn said. "There are some really good fits and some guys that are ideal enough for us. I'm anxious to see them."