Although the Falcons' offensive line came together mere days before opening night, it's already playing like a group that's known each other for years.
According to Pro Football Focus, Atlanta has the NFL's best offensive line heading into Week 5, a huge leap from its 26th-place finish in 2014. It currently sits fourth in pass blocking, sixth in penalties and, not surprisingly, second in run blocking.
These rankings are, of course, subjective; as any group of scouts would say, there's always room for interpretation—especially when it comes to linemen. Nevertheless, the fact that Atlanta's OL is held in such a high regard—by independent analysts, coaches and fellow players alike—is meaningful in itself and a sign of genuine progress.
"What a turnaround," said Khaled Elsayed, who came up with the aforementioned pecking order. "Something you rarely see, Atlanta has morphed its scheme and personnel to achieve immediate results. Mike Person has been a revelation at center, and Chris Chester has proven to be a tremendous free agent pickup."
Chester, a guard with plenty of experience in Kyle Shanahan's offense, has been a major reason why the OL has come together so quickly. His individual performance has been stellar (his grade is sixth among left guards) and, given his understanding of the outside zone scheme, has been a valuable instructor, too.
In Chester's mind, the OL has meshed rapidly thanks to trust in the system and a willingness to adapt to new methodologies.
"We have a lot of quality character guys," he said. I think that's been the biggest factor helping us come together. It's nice to have people say nice things about us, but we don't ever want to lose perspective. There's still a lot of football ahead of us, and we know that we can all get better."