Falcons’ success about far more than star playmakers

Posted: 17/01/2017 in NFL, Sports
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Don’t let fantasy football fool you.

Star talents at the skill positions have always gotten the fanfare, and there are certain situations where such players – particularly the NFL’s elite quarterbacks – can lead the way on a championship run.

But for teams and fans alike to ignore the limitless impact of a strong offensive line would be a mistake.

If that much wasn’t already clear throughout the regular season, the point had to have been driven home with the Atlanta Falcons’ divisional-round win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.

Atlanta made a major addition to the offensive line in free agency by signing Alex Mack away from the Cleveland Browns. The perennial Pro Bowl center stepping into a lead role in the middle immediately solidified the front five both as a strong pass-protection unit and as a proficient group in the ground game.

With such upgrades finally providing a suitable complement to the established core of playmakers, it’s no coincidence the Falcons’ offense has been the league’s most efficient offense ever since.

Saturday’s convincing victory was nothing new for a Falcons attack that ranked first in scoring and second in total yards throughout the year.

Atlanta is now off to the NFC title game after hanging 422 yards and 36 points on the vaunted Seahawks defense, and a Seattle team that refuses to allocate resources to its offensive front is heading home early.

Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system will continue to get plenty of the credit, and there are few teams that boast a trio of playmakers that come anywhere close to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman in terms of ability.

Then again, that quartet was also in place last year. With a less than impressive line, Atlanta finished the 2015 campaign ranked seventh in yards and 21st in points.

Along with the success the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, and Tennessee Titans enjoyed after building dominant offensive fronts, Mack becoming a difference-maker in Atlanta is just the latest example of how general managers around the league should be looking to build their teams.

Spending money and draft-pick capital to protect your star quarterback and carry a running game will never be a bad idea, however boring it may seem on the surface.

The Seahawks, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, and Minnesota Vikings are just a few of the clubs around the league that know all too well how oversights in that regard can work out.

Just look at the teams whose championship hopes are still alive: it all starts up front.


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