By Josh Katzowitz
There has been talk this year that the Falcons offensive line plays dirty. In fact, Giants defensive end Justin Tuck recently made his feelings known, implying Atlanta’s linemen were dirtbags.
Tuck isn’t the only one. This year alone, the Packers and the Lions also have accused the Falcons of dirty play, and Detroit* defensive end Cliff Avril said, “You watch film of Atlanta's O-line and they're 20, 30 yards down the field cutting guys. You're running toward the pile and they're trying to clean you up.”
*Man, if the Lions are calling your team dirty, that’s not a great sign.
So, Atlanta tackle Will Svitek: are you a dirtbag?
“That’s his point of view,” Svitek said, via the NY Post. “If he views us as cheap, then so be it. We’re going to do what we do. We take pride in being physical. You don’t want to be viewed as soft. We’re always going to be there, and we want them to know we’re there.”
The biggest problem opponents have with Atlanta is its cut-blocking theory. As in, cut-blocking is completely cool. And cut-blocking is legal**. But it’s almost never appreciated by the player being cut-blocked. This is also an issue, by the way, the Texans offensive line is criticized about, and for many years, the Broncos with Mike Shanahan as head coach had the same reputation.
**This is an interesting look at the legality of cut-blocking and the history of it.
“We cut like everybody else,” Svitik said. “That’s not illegal, and we don’t get fined. We’re not trying to hurt anybody. Diving at people’s legs is just part of the game. It’s not done in a cheap way.”
As the Post points out, the referees haven’t seen the Falcons as dirty this year. They’ve only been whistled for one personal foul and just seven holding penalties in 1,073 snaps. That’s actually pretty incredible.
But as long as Svitek is being called a dirtbag, he feels like maybe he should make some money off it.
“I’ve been called worse,” he said. “I’m going to have to find the Wikipedia definition of ‘dirtbag.’ Maybe look it up on urbandictionary.com. I’ve joked that maybe we should print up T-shirts and brand it, maybe make some money with [the size of] the New York market.”
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