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Redskins @ Falcons Week 5 Player Spotlight: Jake Matthews

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Sure, we all already know Chris Chester, but what about the most important player on the Falcons OL?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

Offensive Tackle

Age: 23

Height: 6'5"

Weight: 309 lbs.

College: Texas A&M

NFL Draft: 2014 - Round: 1 - Pick:6

Form

The Falcons absolutely destroyed the Texans last week.  Coming into the game, two guys who had studied each other pretty extensively for the match-up were Jake Matthews and J.J. Watt.  I think J.J. Watt said it best when referring to Matthews' form recently when he said, "I think he's worthy of the praise."  I mean, all you have to do is look how well Matthews played against a Texans defensive front featuring J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Vince Wilfork.  Matthews is only in his second year, but he's already entrenched as the starter at LT and is easily one of the team's most skilled, reliable OL.  After three weeks (according to PFF), Matthews was the NFL's fourth-ranked LT and had the best pass block efficiency rating at the position.  Throughout the entirety of Matthews' rookie campaign last season, he only started two games in which he played the entire game and didn't allow a sack or hit, and only allowed one or fewer hurries.  He did that each of the first three games of this young season.

Skills

He's very quick off the snap and has very long, strong arms.  He uses his superior mobility very well in pass protection.  Displays nearly flawless technique and tenacity.  He obviously has the pedigree being the son of Hall of Fame OL Bruce Matthews.  You've heard of the term "waist-bender."  Well, Matthews is the opposite.  He bends at the knees and also has above average upper body strength.  But enough about his pass protection skills, Matthews is just as ruthless as a run blocker.  His legs are like tree trunks and he really uses leverage quite well.  He's almost always the low man when making initial contact in the run game.

His biggest weakness is probably below average foot speed.  He doesn't really "struggle" with anything, but he's most vulnerable to a good, strong bull rush.  He's a little on the light side at only 309 lbs.  Not the best athlete, but very technically sound/savvy and tough with no significant weaknesses.

Potential Against the Redskins

As the starting LT, Matthews is arguably the most important player on the Falcons roster.  They run behind him and one of the main reason you constantly hear about Ryan to Jones on SportsCenter is because Matthews is giving his QB time and space.  Devonta Freeman going off and absolutely destroying end-zones everywhere?  Matthews.  Chris Chester starting at G but still having an overall pretty good OL?  Matthews.  He plays an incredibly significant role in that offense and deservedly so.  He's great.

So what does that mean specifically against the Redskins?  Well, the Redskins pride themselves on shutting down the run first.  Judging by the way Devonta Freeman has been racking up TDs lately, that'll be a focus again this Sunday.  The Redskins defensive front is built with size and strength with an emphasis on stopping the run.  This is about as good of news as I can give with regards to Matthews.  Due to his only being 309 lbs... and due to having big strong run defenders coming at him all game in Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy... the Redskins may be able to do some things in the run game.

The passing situation is a whole different beast all together, though.  Matthews is a top-notch LT and the Redskins don't really have a pass rusher you'd expect to be able to consistently beat him.  Normally, you'd say Kerrigan has a solid chance, but based on how he's been playing lately and any lingering knee issues, the Redskins are put in a bit of a tough position.  When going against an elite QB like Ryan and an elite WR like Julio Jones, it's paramount to apply quick pressure on the QB.  While the Redskins have been decent with that this year, on paper at least, they don't seem to have anyone who can consistently give Matthews trouble this week.

Interesting Facts

Jake played RT his first three season in college while Luke Joeckel manned the left side of the Aggies OL.  He's very good in the run game and many believed he may be best at RT in the NFL.  Jake is the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews.  Jake's older brother played C for the Aggies while his younger brother currently played C for the Aggies.  Jake's cousins are Clay and Casey Matthews.  His uncle, Clay, and his grandfather, Clay, also played in the NFL.  Basically, the Matthews family tree is a football dynasty.  Check Jake out on Twitter @jakematthews70.