All it takes is one game to derail a season. It happened in Week 2 last year for the Atlanta Falcons when the team lost several of their offensive performers. This year it was Week 4 when two offensive linemen and a safety in the loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The task to replace them is not going to be easy as the team enters a big game against the New York Giants. With their offensive line and secondary now in question, what does it mean for some of their biggest playmakers?
The Atlanta Falcons run game was already being questioned as Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers struggle with consistency. Now as injuries begin to mount, will it get worse? The Falcons announced on Tuesday that center Joe Hawley and right tackle Lamar Holmes would be placed on injured reserve, ending their seasons. This comes after the team lost Mike Johnson and Sam Baker in the preseason. So who starts on the line now with several starters out? Jake Matthews is healthy despite sitting out a week for an ankle injury. Second-year pro Peter Konz will start at center. Gabe Garimi can fill in at right tackle or guard, depending on Justin Blalock's healthy. Ryan Schraeder could also see time on the field.
Chemistry will be key. Last year injuries hit the offensive line and the Falcons were never able to recover. Matt Ryan spent more time on the ground than standing in the pocket, causing Atlanta to limp their way to a 4-12 season. Currently 2-2 and tied for the top spot in the NFC South, the Falcons were hoping for something different, but injuries once again have them potentially faltering.
One good thing for Atlanta is the wide receiver position appears to be healthy. Harry Douglas is being limited with a foot issue, but Julio Jones, Devin Hester, Roddy White and Levine Toilolo are all ready to play come Sunday against the Giants. Ryan will lean on them heavily. The question is whether the offense can remain balanced if the offensive line struggles to get Jackson and Rodgers moving. Jackson has been a fantasy disappointment all season while Antone Smith has been a welcomed sleeper on the offense. The Giants run defense is pretty middle-of-the-road in terms of the rest of the week. Owners should proceed with caution when starting anyone on the Falcons.