FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons offensive line coach Chris Morgan, who was in his first season as the head of a unit, was named the offensive line coach of the year by analytics site, profootballfocus.com on Wednesday.
Morgan, an understudy of respected Seattle assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable, was charged with molding together a unit that featured four new full-time starters and left tackle Jake Matthews.
Right tackle Ryan Schraeder, who had never opened the season as a starter, developed nicely in the outside zone blocking system, while veterans guard Andy Levitre and Chris Chester were added through a trade and free agency. The center position was filled mostly by Mike Person, who was previously a guard.
The Falcons line was ranked 26th in 2014 and made the leap up to the fourth spot under Morgan, according to profootballfocus.com.
Here’s what the site had to say about Morgan:
Offensive Line Coach of the Year
Winner: Chris Morgan, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta’s O-line turnaround was astonishing; the Falcons went from our 26th ranked unit in 2014 to fourth this year, without spending ridiculously in free agency or making a splash in the draft. Regardless of cost, three new players had to be integrated, and that is a difficult task in itself. In the end, both tackles improved markedly over their previous season, and both new guards meshed well, too.
First runner-up: Mike Tice, Oakland Raiders
Second runner-up: Bill Callahan, Washington Redskins
Morgan came to the Falcons highly recommended from Cable, who taught him the intricacies of the outside-zone blocking system. Cable was the Falcons’ offensive line coach under Jim Mora.
Morgan played for Cable at Colorado and worked with him at the University of Idaho, Oakland and Seattle.
The last time the Falcons had a first-time head NFL offensive line coach was under Bobby Petrino in 2007. Mike Summers, a respected long-time college coach with 26 years of college experience, had trouble in his one season in the NFL.
Morgan was assisted by Keith Carter and had the help of long-time NFL running backs coach Bobby Turner, who knows the blocking system after 20 years in the NFL.
The Falcons were determined to make the rushing attack more potent after ranking 24th in the NFL while averaging 93.6 yards per game in 2014. The Falcons averaged 100.4 yards per game and were ranked 19th in the league. The offensive line, which gave up 32 sacks and 89 quarterback hits, paved the way for running back Devonta Freeman to rush for 1,056 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
(Morgan talking about the unit back on August 15, 2015).
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