Falcons GM: Matthew Bergeron, Chris Lindstrom to be NFL’s Best Guard Duo

Among the positions NFL teams value, offensive guard is rarely placed near the top of the list. The Atlanta Falcons, if only from investment of capital, are bucking that trend.

Falcons GM: Matthew Bergeron, Chris Lindstrom to be NFL’s Best Guard Duo

On March 13, 2023, Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot signed right guard Chris Lindstrom to a five-year, $105 million extension, making Lindstrom the highest-paid guard in league history.

A month and a half later, Fontenot and the Falcons traded up six spots to No. 38 overall in the second round of the NFL Draft, selecting Syracuse offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron, who played tackle in college but transitioned to left guard as a professional.

So, when Atlanta took the field for its season opener Sept. 10, it did so with a pair of coveted guards — and Fontenot, reflecting on the seasons Lindstrom and Bergeron put together, believes the Falcons have a chance to field a special pairing inside.

“Bergeron started every game last year, and I truly believe that if he continues to move forward, you’re going to have the best guard combination in the league with him and Chris,” Fontenot said April 26. “We have a lot of confidence in those guys.”

Lindstrom’s resume speaks for itself; in each of the past two years, he’s been named a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro.

But Bergeron’s book is still being written.

The 24-year-old from Victoriaville, Canada, immersed himself as a staple of Atlanta’s offense, playing more snaps — 1,139 — than any other member of the unit.

Bergeron’s first 10 games saw spurts of highs and lows, as he allowed 21 total pressures, six quarterback hits and four sacks while being called for three penalties, according to Pro Football Focus.

But after the Falcons’ bye week, the 6-5, 323-pounder starred, giving up just 12 pressures, two hits, a pair of sacks and earning just one penalty.

For the season, Bergeron allowed 33 pressures on 632 pass blocking snaps, giving his opponents a pressure rate of just 5.2%.

Bergeron enters his second season with a strong foundation to build from, sparked by continuity in his room, as all five starters return along with offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford.

There’s a new face at the top, with Raheem Morris replacing Arthur Smith as head coach, but Bergeron’s film from last year made an immediate impression on Morris.

“Bergeron is a really good football player and watching him play last year as a rookie, that is a tough thing to do,” said Morris.  “It is tough to go from college to playing in the interior line or inside of the ball and be ready and to be mature and developed enough to do those things. So, that is a high-quality pick.”

Zac Robinson, Atlanta’s new offensive coordinator, came with Morris from the Los Angeles Rams, where the offense went from zone-heavy to more gap and duo blocks.

Bergeron has the size and athleticism to fit well in either role, as does Lindstrom. The Falcons appear poised to field a potent downhill rushing attack with Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier and Jase McClellan each eclipsing 210 pounds.

Thus, the interior of Atlanta’s offensive line — Lindstrom, Bergeron and center Drew Dalman — figures to be particularly paramount in maintaining the success of a rushing attack that ranked top 10 the past two years.

But Fontenot is confident … especially if Bergeron takes the next step. And with the tools and tape he’s seen in the last calendar year, Atlanta’s fourth-year general manager feels validated in his belief.

“His tools and his ability and things he did last year — we know he’s going to take a step and continue to improve fundamentals,” Fontenot said. “This is a big athletic man, and we’re very excited about him.”

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