The news coming out of Atlanta Falcons camp Monday could prove to be vital in the team’s success or lack thereof in 2014. According to ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure, rookie tackle Jake Matthews will move from right to left tackle, after the loss of veteran Sam Baker. This news doesn’t come as a shock, just two days after Baker tore his patella tendon during Saturday’s preseason game against the Houston Texans. The Falcons drafted Baker with the 22nd pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
What does this mean for Atlanta going forward? The Falcons took Jake Matthews with the 6th pick in this year’s draft for a reason. Although head coach Mike Smith probably didn’t want to push Matthews into the starting left tackle spot at the beginning of his rookie season, he doesn’t seem too worried about his 1st round pick. When asked about Matthews, Smith said, “I don’t think he’ll blink. We’re not.” Everyone knows that left tackle is the most essential position to an offensive line, and really to the offense as a whole. In an increasingly passing league, keeping your quarterback upright means everything.
In 2013, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked on average 2.75 times per game, ranking the Falcons well below the league leading Denver Broncos, who boasted an average of 1.25 times per game. Matthews isn’t foreign to the left tackle position though, starting his final season at Texas A&M protecting Johnny Manziel’s blind side. He had played his previous three seasons at the right tackle spot, while now-Jacksonville Jaguar Luke Joeckel occupied the left.
Matthews’ move to left tackle gives 3rd year player Lamar Holmes the opportunity to start at right tackle. Holmes played his college football at Southern Mississippi.