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This IS A Rebuild: Grades Highlight Big Problem For Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots grades from PFF are in, and they're not pretty.

Let's start with this: As much as the new regime hated the phrase when it took over ... this IS a rebuild.

Want evidence? Pro Football Focus (PFF) has published its grades for the Atlanta Falcons in their 25-0 loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday night.

It should come as no surprise that the three lowest-graded starters on offense came on the line of scrimmage.

LG Jalen Mayfield - 50.6
OC Matt Hennessy - 50.9
RT Kaleb McGary - 54.0

Right guard Chris Lindstrom and left tackle Jake Matthews fared a bit better with grades of 69.8 and 61.7 respectively.

Hennessy had the indignity of being spotlighted on a failed fourth-and-1 play by that saw him shoved backwards by Patriots nose guard Carl Davis.

That play epitomized the mismatch Atlanta faces in the trenches on a week-to-week basis. ... and serves as a symbol for what "rebuilding'' means.

While no one expects the Falcons to score three points in two games, the obstacles this Atlanta offense is facing in 2021 are daunting.

The Falcons went into the game against the Patriots without wide receiver Calvin Ridley, without running back Cordarrelle Patterson, without backup tight end Hayden Hurst, and obviously without the traded Julio Jones.

The Falcons four leading receivers in 2020, Jones, Ridley, Hurst, and Russell Gage, accounted for 3,502 yards last season.

Of those four, Gage was the only one on the active roster against the Patriots, and he has 21 catches for 208 yards this season.

Meanwhile, here's how the PFF grades the Falcons offensive linemen against their peers this year:

LT: Jake Matthews, 49th of 79
LG: Jaylen Mayfield, 68th of 75
OC: Matt Hennessy, 15th of 39
RG: Chris Lindstrom, 9th of 75
RT: Kaleb McGary, 70th of 79

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Couple the personnel losses with having to play with that offensive line, and there shouldn't be any questions about expectations.

It made the talk of "win-now" in the offseason from the front office sound naïve at best.

This is a rebuild.

The rebuild is going to take time because of the salary cap mess former general manager Thomas Dimitroff left the Falcons.

According to Spotrac, the Falcons are 24th in total available cap space next season at just $15 million. Every team in the top ten has at least $50 million to spend next season.

The Falcons traded Jones in the offseason to get up an extra second-round pick and will use that selection to improve one of several gaping holes on the roster including offensive tackle, edge-rusher, cornerback, and wide receiver.

Quarterback isn't the biggest hole on this team, but Ryan will be 37 next season. 37 is going to feel like 57 behind this offensive line. Even with the other holes on the team, a quarterback of the future has to be a consideration.

The front office made a mistake by raising expectations in the offseason. This is the roster of a team picking in the top five again in 2022.

That they've won even four games is because of improved defensive coaching from coordinator Dean Pees, rookie tight end Kyle Pitts living up to his lofty expectations, and running back Cordarrelle Patterson becoming the free agent bargain of the year.

The 2022 NFL Draft Class appears to be full of players that fit the Falcons' biggest needs. According to NFL Draft Bible, six of the top nine prospects are offensive and defensive linemen. The three others are defensive backs.

Fixing the lines of scrimmage will be the top priority if the Falcons are to become playoff contenders again. 

Until that happens, there needs to be no more talk of "win now."

There needs to be an at-least in-house concession to the truth ... and to the rebuild.