Despite Falcons coach Mike Smith’s attempts to deflect the blame of the porous blocking performance in Game 1 away from the offensive line, it is clear that the Falcons will not progress until the unit improves a great deal rather rapidly.
Smith believes they can make a quantum leap from Game 1 to Game 2. They certainly will need to while facing the St. Louis Rams, who tied with Denver for the NFL lead in sacks last season with 52.
The offensive line of left tackle Sam Baker, left guard Justin Blalock, center Peter Konz, right guard Garrett Reynolds and right tackle Lamar Holmes will be on the hot seat against the Rams.
The Falcons revamped the unit this offseason and have planned these moves over the past two seasons. They knew Todd McClure wouldn’t play forever and drafted Konz in the second round of the 2012 draft. They also wanted to get more athletic and powerful in short-yardage situations and drafted Holmes in the third round.
Thus far, the moves have been slow to pay dividends.
“Practice blocking and game blocking are not the same thing,” offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. “Even preseason tempo and regular-season tempo are not the same thing. I just think blocking improves with game-time experience.”
They have some continuity issues, and against the Saints some of the players didn’t hold up in their one-on-one matchups.
“You have to tweak your schemes a little bit every week based on who you are playing and what kind of defense that they play,” Koetter said. “I think like everything, blocking improves as you go along.”