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Offensive line stands strong in 2023, poised to do so again in 2024 -- Falcons Breakdown

The Falcons Breakdown series continues with a look at the construction of the offensive line room in Atlanta and what changes are to come in 2024. 


NOTE: The Falcons editorial team of Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack and Amna Subhan will analyze each position group during the "Falcons Breakdown" series, which evaluates how every position performed in 2023 and what to look for in 2024. Up next, the offensive line.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons broke 2,000 yards rushing for the second season in a row. That is a feat the team has not accomplished since a three-year run from 2004-06. A lot of that is in thanks to the Falcons offensive line. Those five up front may not be the ones running the ball, but they sure are clearing the paths for those who are in possession of the pigskin.

From left to right, the line's starting unit in 2023 looked like this: tackle Jake Matthews, guard Matthew Bergeron, center Drew Dalman, guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary. Backup options utilized, meaning they took in-game offensive snaps, then included Ryan Neuzil, Kyle Hinton and Storm Norton from the active roster, plus John Leglue and Tyler Vrabel from the practice squad.

All but one of those starters' names should look familiar, as they were maintained from 2022. The only newbie was Bergeron, imported with the Falcons second-round draft pick in 2023. He took over the starting left guard job after the 2022 season saw three players rotate at the position.

Well, it's always difficult to reflect on an offensive line's production specifically since there aren't any traditional statistics for that position. Even its defensive counterpart has standout options to pull from, like sacks, fumbles, interceptions and tackles. But not along the offensive front.

So, it's normal to look at the offense's production as a whole. All the action starts with the line anyway.

The Falcons finished No. 3 in rushing attempts (522) and No. 9 in rushing yards (2,159). They were No. 15 with 14 rushing touchdowns. The Falcons then ranked No. 25 in passing attempts (530, completing 327) and No. 22 in passing yards (3,524). They were No. 26 with 17 passing touchdowns. Clearly, the ground game was strong than the air attack, which is a good sign for Atlanta's offensive line.

The offensive line allowed 40 sacks, too – 31 on Desmond Ridder, eight on Logan Woodside and one on Logan Woodside at quarterback. That landed the Falcons at No. 12.

For an all-encompassing idea, Pro Football Focus placed the Falcons as its No. 4 offensive line in its end-of-season position rankings.

2023 production:

Offensive snap counts: Jake Matthews, 1,063 (94.07% of 17 game appearances) | Matthew Bergeron, 1,129 (99.91% of 17 game appearances) | Drew Dalman, 934 (82.65% of 16 game appearances) | Chris Lindstrom, 1,068 (94.51% of 16 game appearances) | Kaleb McGary, 848 (75.04% of 14 games appearances)

Offensive line penalties: Jake Matthews, five accepted (one holding, one illegal use of hands, three false starts; one other declined/offset) | Matthew Bergeron, four accepted (one ineligible downfield pass, three false starts) | Drew Dalman, two accepted (one false start, one unnecessary roughness; two others declined/offset) | Chris Lindstrom, five accepted (two holding, three false starts; one other declined/offset) | Kaleb McGary, two accepted (two holding; one other declined/offset)

Offensive overall stats: Rushing, 522 carries for 2,159 yards and 14 touchdowns | Passing, 327 completions, 530 attempts for 3,524 yards, 17 touchdowns and 17 interceptions | 40 sacks overall

  • Jake Matthews: Offense grade, 71.2 | Pass-block grade, 80.1 | Run-block grade, 60.1
  • Matthew Bergeron: Offensive grade, 59.5 | Pass-block grade, 57.1 | Run-block grade, 60.1
  • Drew Dalman: Offense grade, 82.3 | Pass-block grade, 53.0 | Run-block grade, 90.0
  • Chris Lindstrom: Offense grade, 87.6 | Pass-block grade, 78.6 | Run-block grade, 87.6
  • Kaleb McGary: Offensive grade, 75.5 | Pass-block grade, 69.5 | Run-block grade, 76.5

Who stays: All of the starters

On the bubble: None of the starters

Biggest offseason question: Can this group stay healthy and live up to its potential with possibly a new quarterback? Because everyone who was a starter along the offensive front in 2023 should be back in 2024.

The lineman closest to free agency is center Drew Dalman in 2025, according to Over the Cap. He's still on his rookie drafted contract from 2021. Right tackle Kaleb McGary is next in 2026, while left tackle Jake Matthews and left guard Matthew Bergeron are signed until 2027. Left guard Chris Lindstrom is locked in the longest, until 2029.

This should be a relief for the Falcons, since the line did so well this past season. There were only four games in which these five weren't on the field together come the first snap. And all those games came toward the end of the season, with the most ever being three of the five absent once.

  • Week 14 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Neuzil replaced Dalman.
  • Week 15 loss to the Carolina Panthers: Neuzil, Kyle Hinton and Storm Norton replaced Dalman, Lindstrom and McGary, respectively.
  • Week 16 win over the Indianapolis Colts: Norton replaced McGary.
  • Week 18 loss to the New Orleans Saints: Neuzil replaced Dalman.

The key in 2024 will be sustaining the full season, rather than falling off toward the end. Four of the Falcons' final six games featured rushing totals fewer than 100 yards. That was only the case in two of the previous 11 games.

Perhaps the bigger question for the offensive line has less to do with its own members but more so who they'll be protecting. Running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier are set to return, but Cordarrelle Patterson is TBD with his free agency fending. Then, quarterback is a massive question mark this offseason.

MORE FALCONS BREAKDOWN: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Tight ends | Wide receivers | Defensive line released on Wednesday

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