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Goober Pyle

Back at 100 percent, Chris Lindstrom got ‘first dibs on baby ribs’ on Nick Bosa pancake block

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The play’s result was an incompletion. The play within the play, however, showed just why the Falcons selected Chris Lindstrom with the 14th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In the fourth quarter, with the San Francisco 49ers leading the Falcons by nine points, quarterback Matt Ryan dropped back to pass. His intended throw to Julio Jones was incomplete, which wasn’t that bad considering the alternative. While Kaleb McGary was able to keep Nick Bosa from beating him off of the edge, Bosa spun to try to attack Ryan on the inside.

That’s when Lindstrom, who didn’t have a man to block, noticed that it was open season on one of the top candidates for NFL defensive rookie of the year.

As Bosa hit the spin move, Lindstrom flew in and flattened him on his backside. Instead of Ryan taking a shot, Bosa was the one hitting the turf.

“Chris knows I’m going to sit there and hold him up,” McGary said. “And if Chris is free, he knows he’s got first dibs on baby ribs.”

Said offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter: “Bosa was spinning back inside on Kaleb late. Chris was not only there to help, but we call those body blows. You put a good whack on a guy and over the course of a game those body blows add up and hopefully slows the rush down.”

Lindstrom was all smiles when that particular play popped up during his Monday film review. A tough critic of his own game, Lindstrom said it’s nice to see the good arise alongside the bad.

“You definitely want to rewatch the tape and evaluate for all the different things you can correct,” Lindstrom said. “You take notes of what you messed up and what can you do better. But then you do get to enjoy the few plays you do well on. You celebrate it and that’s the great thing about Mondays. You celebrate the good and learn from the bad. We talk about the two truths of it and the truth of what actually happened.”

While that play resulted in an incompletion, the Falcons drove the field and scored a touchdown. The defense then held the 49ers to a field goal, with the offense driving down for the winning score in an upset 29-22 victory.

Lindstrom was able to play his first full game of the 2019 season in that game. And after seeing 50 percent of the snaps against the Carolina Panthers the week prior, the results were mostly positive for the rookie guard. As an offensive line, the Falcons only allowed three sacks the past two weeks. The right side of the line appears more stable, considering the chemistry Lindstrom and McGary have worked on since playing with one another at the 2019 Senior Bowl.

Lindstrom’s rookie season began with his suffering a broken foot in a season-opening loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He was forced to sit out the next 11 games before being able to return. While the Falcons started 1-7 and now sit at 5-9, there was never a thought to sit Lindstrom for the remainder of the year. Lindstrom wanted to return and worked hard to do so.

“He has a real urgency about his play,” head coach Dan Quinn said. “He can help inside to Alex (Mack), he can help outside to Kaleb when he’s not covered, but I think we will continue to see him improve. He only has two games — half of one, a half of another and this one. I think you’re going to keep seeing his performances improve. It’s an important block for him, to gain that type of experience and not to lose those times. The fact that he is able to come back and play, it’s a big deal.”

The Monday before Atlanta’s second game against Carolina, Lindstrom was activated from injured reserve with the goal of returning to game action. But by the end of the week, Quinn thought it would be funny to play a minor prank on his first-round pick.

He approached Lindstrom at his locker and told him that it was great to see him back at practice but that he would need to wait a little longer to play in a game again.

“Maybe next week,” Quinn deadpanned to Lindstrom.

Lindstrom wasn’t having it. He had worked too hard to sit out a game he was physically ready for. He stood up in front of his locker to let Quinn know he was good to go.

“No, I am ready to right now,” Lindstrom said.

Quinn ended the joke there, letting Lindstrom know he would start against Carolina.

While Lindstrom was out, he stayed prepared by sticking to his routine of studying the weekly game plans. He continued rehab at the team facility and attended all of the offensive line meetings. He took notes regularly and made sure to study up on the opponent.

“I’d have three notebooks full as if I was playing every week,” he said.

Offensive line coach Chris Morgan said he never saw an injured player work harder while battling an injury.

“I think it was the responsibility he felt to the group. He has some great role models in the group that show him that, teach him that,” Morgan said. “He really cares about football. He really loves football. He likes the process, he likes the details. He likes working, he likes being with the guys. That’s probably why he’s one of the better examples I’ve seen.”

From what Morgan could see, Lindstrom actually felt bad that he was unable to play alongside his teammates, even though the foot injury was no fault of his own. It was just a freak accident that occurred during a play. And Lindstrom earned a great deal of respect from his teammates for fighting through the injury, with hopes that the pain would go away and that he could finish out that opener against Minnesota.

Healthy enough, Lindstrom is happy to be able to play with his teammates again. It’s a fact he doesn’t appear to be taking for granted.

“It’s been awesome,” McGary said. “It’s great to have him back out there playing but it’s really great to see how happy he is again. He’s been working his butt off to get back these last couple of months and he finally is. It’s awesome to see how ecstatic he is and to play with him.”


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This is the kind of thing that makes people look like complete fools when they say 'We should just sit so-and-so for the rest of the year'.  Try telling these guys you're just blithely taking away their passion, as hard as they work to be in there. If we were 0-14 Lindstrom would've worked just as hard to get back.  

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Chris looks like a stud G. Not easy to find those guys anywhere in free agency or draft, so kudos must be given to TD on that pick. Kaleb looks like a potential solid starter as well which means we have three of the five o-line positions locked down long term. Wouldn't mind selecting Alex Mack's replacement with one of the first few picks next year and then wait and see if Gono can lock down the other guard spot.

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