With strong pass protection, Matt Ryan is thriving

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game in San Diego Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan passes against the San Diego Chargers during the first half of an NFL football game in San Diego Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

FLOWERY BRANCH — For Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter it was scene out of a bad horror movie on “Monday Night Football.”

And he was not even talking about the phantom “touchdown” at the end of the game. He fixated on Seattle’s defense unleashing a pass-rushing flurry that netted eight sacks in first half.

Koetter, hasn’t had to worry about that, but he had some empathy for Green Bay coordinator Tom Clements. Through three games, the Falcons’ pass protection has been nearly impeccable as quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked only four times.

“To have four sacks after three games [is pretty good], our goal is to keep under one a game,” Koetter said.

An example of how the Falcons have been in sync in pass protection occurred Sunday on Ryan’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones in the second quarter.

The offense properly diagnosed San Diego’s safety blitz. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers stepped up to block Pro Bowl safety Eric Weedle.

Right guard Garrett Reynolds and right tackle Tyson Clabo handled a stunt well, and the Falcons successfully blocked a blitz. They gave Ryan enough time to toss the pass to Jones, who was on a fade route to the corner to the end zone.

The throw and catch were a thing of beauty, but neither would have been possible without the pass protection.

“In that situation, they probably have one more than we can protect, and the thing is, if we can hold up just long enough, we feel like we can get the ball out and put the ball in a space for our guys to make plays,” Ryan said. “That’s one of the things that a lot of people never see, but those are the things that make those plays.”

Here’s how Koetter saw that key play.

“Not only Jacquizz, they were in a safety blitz on that side,” Koetter said. “Matt recognized it. Jacquizz picked up the safety. Clabo and Garrett Reynolds both adjusted from the normal scheme based on the blitz. Where we would have been one short, we had everybody picked up.”

The Falcons gave up 26 sacks and 84 quarterback hits last season. The team drafted offensive linemen with their first two picks, but the rookies couldn’t unseat any of the veterans and are being groomed by offensive line coaches Pat Hill and Paul Dunn.

The offensive line gave up one sack to Denver, which has talented rushers in Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Left tackle Sam Baker and Clabo have been strong and stout thus far.

“We talk about pass protection being everybody’s job,” Koetter said. “It’s the offensive line protecting, and they are doing a really nice job now. They’ve worked really hard at it and it’s showing.

“Also, the fact that Matt is getting the ball out on time, and when we are getting blitzed, the hot receivers are where they are supposed to be, when they are supposed to be there.”

After the beating that Ryan took last season, he worked on his strength conditioning in the offseason. The quarterback hits took their toll last season. With the added muscle, he hopes to be stronger at the end of the season.

With the beefed up pass protection, Ryan is off to a great start. His quarterback rating of 114 is tops in the NFL, and he has completed 77 of 107 passes (72 percent) for 793 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception.

“Our guys have done a great job,” Ryan said. “They’ve worked their tails off up front. I think part of it is really having five guys who have played together a bunch. They understand each other’s calls and work well with each other.”

The offensive line credits Ryan, who is running more, with making their job a little easier.

“A big part of it is that we’re able to get favorable looks and what we want a lot of times, especially when we are in the no-huddle package,” left guard Justin Blalock said. “He’s putting us in good positions to see blitzes coming.”

The linemen know that Ryan doesn’t need a whole lot of time.

“Anytime that we can shore things up and give Matt just a split second more, he’s very, very accurate,” Blalock said. “We have been able to keep people out of his face and keep him upright for the most part.”

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71 comments Add your comment

Really?

September 28th, 2012
3:18 pm

Too bad for who drunk nation that the taint’s had to bite the hand that was feeding them wins. The nfl overlooked a lot of taint’s misdeeds for a long time and still would be doing so but the taints brain trust actually started to believe their own hype. The taint’s kept cheating and the nfl decided it was time for the taint’s to actually win games without help and without cheating.

How’s that working out for you new orleans? LOL

Barry

September 28th, 2012
3:19 pm

HEY Y’ALL:

CAM WILL BE IN OUR HOUSE,” THE GEORGIA DOME” ON SUNDAY. OUR DEFENSE AND OUR OFFENSE WILL BE IN FULL SWING AND HUNGRY TO MAKE CAMS DAY AWFUL HERE IN THE ATL. THIS WON’T BE PRETTY Y’ALL!!!! AND WE AIN’T FEELING SORRY FOR NOBODY IN OUR HOUSE!!!. CAM, GET READY TO SULK. GET READY TO SULK IN “ONE HEARTBEAT!!!!”. THUMP!!!!!!

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!

THE ‘PROCESS’ CONTINUES TO THE SUPER BOWL!!!!!!!

‘FALCONS, RISE UP!!!” WE “RISE UP!!” IN ‘ONE HEARTBEAT!!!”. THUMP!!

This is a SECRET from a FALCON FAN. TELL EVERYBODY!!!!!!

…………………….”ONE HEARTBEAT, BABY!!!…………………

SawThat1nce

September 28th, 2012
3:22 pm

Taints are 0-3, my, my, my, poor taints.
Doesn’t look like they are going get any support from the NLF officials, anytime in the near future, like they did in 2009, when the Refs ushered them into a SB.

SawThat1nce

September 28th, 2012
3:32 pm

Kroger still offers paper or plastic, so the taints fans can still wear paper bags this season.

As for an asterik *, what really deserves and * by it, is the 2009 SuperBowl.
It should read like this,
SuperBowl 2009 *
* This game was won by the NFL and it’s officials, who worked hand in hand during the entire season, to get the New Orleans Taints into the SB, and then helped the Taints get the trophy.

hey now.....

September 28th, 2012
4:13 pm

are Aint’s fans smart enough to know NOT to use plastic bags, due to suffocation? We can only hope that a few certain ones are not :-)

REAMing aints

September 28th, 2012
4:18 pm

If I can call it any kind of sbowl I want, I’ll call your embarrassment to the league in 2009 the SubPar Bowl.

GoodbyeMularky

September 28th, 2012
6:29 pm

Its simple. With Mularkey, the defense knew what was coming. Now they don’t.

Its called being unpredictable. The secret going all the way back to Sun Tzu.

Falcon James

September 28th, 2012
8:49 pm

I am amazed at how many people come in here and trash talk Ryan. Do they know that he is the Top Rated QB in the league right now? I am lets get real. A QB who stinks does not have a #1 rating. I suggest the haters get a paper bag out, cut the eye holes so you can see, I go watch your miserable team. The insults to the Falcons and our QB don’t stick. You just advertise your ignorantses by posting.

jaz

September 28th, 2012
11:08 pm

Plastic bag, no holes.

Baby Punting

September 28th, 2012
11:33 pm

One word about the Saint. You are OhFur. Get out the paper bag. It shouldn’t be long before we start seeing them on Sports Center!

——————————-

OhFur? they will be OhFurFur after GB game!

Fred

September 29th, 2012
12:02 am

I’ve been an Atlanta Falcon season ticket holder for 21 years. Both Falcon fans and Saint fans on this blog sound like a bounch of babies fussing back and forth. Truth Saints have a Super Bowl ring and we don’t period. Hopefully we’ll get ours this year.

REAMing aints

September 29th, 2012
2:37 am

I’ve been a Falcons fan since I was 12 when the name the team competition for the Atlanta franchise started in 1965. Does that mean I can sit on a higher horse and call just about everyone here a fussing baby? Romans 2:1. You are what you judge Fred. This is just another form of competition. We like our team and will defend it. Live with it. I don’t go to the NO paper and trash talk, but I will defend my team against trolls that do that here. As long as they keep throwing their Subpar bowl ring in the fray, it’s fair game. Understand?

itmeagain

September 29th, 2012
9:26 am

Saints R.E.A.M.

September 28th, 2012
9:22 am
Too bad your 3 wins have an asterisk next to them due to the replacement refs. No more running of illegal pick plays & screen passes where receivers are blocking before the pass is completed…..guess you’ll have to earn it now……we shall see….

Hahahahahahahahaha…troll quote of the day.

falcon_in_the_house

September 29th, 2012
10:59 am

Saints REAM — Saints, GB, NE, Peyton look at their record…. Only one reason, They didn’t have FAV REF in their games…. All of sudden, it becomes anyone game….

Saints OL likes to hold until Brees throws a bomb but they couldn’t do it front of replacement ref…. that’s the real Saints….

falcon_in_the_house

September 29th, 2012
11:00 am

Saints REAM — What about the Bounty SuperBowl… I’m sure it has Chit all over that

Falcon James

September 29th, 2012
11:54 am

Green Bay is licking they chops this week and are going to sink they teeth in the Saint hind end. The Saint will be lucky to get a field goal. I feel sorry for any team who face the Packer this week. They going to be out for blood. Too bad it has to be the Saint, but oh well, they getting used to loosing anyway.

MarkATL

September 29th, 2012
4:04 pm

The SAINTS are playing IN GREEN BAY among all places. Wow.. that is NOT GOOD!!! They will be out for REVENGE!!

Saints R.E.A.M.

September 29th, 2012
7:05 pm

Just when you think all is lost….it can get worse….for you and for me!! Lol.

Keith

September 29th, 2012
8:12 pm

No “trap games” in the NFL anymore, especially in the division….but I assume the Panthers will play well tomorrow.

GO DIRTY BIRDS! :)

Blake

September 29th, 2012
10:48 pm

@Saints R.E.A.M. …yeah well after tomorrow your team Is going 2b 4 games In our rear view mirror….

Ricnic

September 30th, 2012
1:23 am

Hmmmmm. Aint’s or Slackers….. Aint’s or Slackers…. Aint’s or Slackers, Have to hope the aints win so they are both 1-3. But wont lose a tear in my beer if the Packers spanks that ….uh … Aint’s ..beep!. ..end transmission.