Atlanta Falcons: Pass protection issues go beyond line

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gets a pass off under pressure from Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gets a pass off under pressure from Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan faced a heavy pass rush from Carolina last Sunday but, in the judgment of coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, it’s not accurate to simply categorize it as a poor day for the offensive line.

Sometimes Ryan held the ball too long or Atlanta’s wide receivers didn’t shorten their routes. Other times the running backs didn’t help pass block or the play called made it difficult for the line to execute. Credit Carolina’s defense, too.

All of those factors resulted in Ryan taking a whacking: a career-high seven sacks and 12 other hits in 40 pass attempts during Atlanta’s 30-28 victory.

“We gave up way to many sacks in the game but they all weren’t on the offensive line,” Smith said. “I can assure you that.”

The intricacies of pass protection mean it’s often too simple to blame the offensive line when things go badly. Still, Atlanta’s linemen have their own bottom line when it comes to Carolina’s pressure.

“We’ve got to block until the ball is gone, no matter what the situation is,” center Todd McClure said.

“A lot of that is on us and we have to do a better job,” said guard Justin Blalock.

The Falcons have spent time this week trying to shore up their pass protection for Sunday’s game against the Redskins. That review involves more than working individual and group techniques.

For one, Koetter said the play calls against Carolina at times contributed to the protection issues. He said there should have been more help for the linemen in protection on a handful of plays and that two of the sacks came on plays when the pass routes weren’t ideal for Carolina’s coverages.

Koetter said another sack occurred on a sprint-out play, when the linemen didn’t have many options once Ryan held the ball near the sideline.

“To say everything is on the offensive line, that’s not fair,” Koetter said. “It’s just as much on me as it is on them.”

The Panthers further disrupted the pass protection by aggressively covering Atlanta’s short routes. That disrupted Ryan’s timing and affected the linemen, too.

“When the ball is supposed to come out fast, they are going to take a more aggressive set and try to smoke [defenders] at the line of scrimmage and expect the ball to come out quick,” Koetter said. “If the ball doesn’t come out quick, you are left out to dry a little bit.”

Blalock said there are times when the linemen can be more aggressive on three-step drops. The aim is to catch their man off-guard, affect his timing and, if all goes well, Ryan releases the ball before the defender can recover.

Still, Blalock said the linemen ultimately are responsible for protecting the quarterback regardless of the play.

“It’s not something you can really concern yourself with,” Blalock said. “Our responsibility is to block our assignment until the ball is gone. It’s not like Matt comes to the huddle and says, ‘Hold this one a little longer.’

“But there are routes and concepts when we know we are taking shots [down field], just like there are times when a guy gets beat quickly. That’s just part of the game. Get up, brush yourself off.”

The Redskins haven’t generated many sacks from their 3-4 alignment. Their season total of seven is less than all but seven teams before Thursday night play.

Washington’s defense took a hit when linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker were both lost to injuries in Week 2. Orakpo was last season’s team leader with nine sacks.

Washington’s weakened pass rush has contributed to the overall struggles of its defense. But then again, Carolina had just five sacks through three games before teeing off on Ryan.

“What it comes down to is fundamental things,” McClure said. “We failed in some situations in our one-on-one match-ups. Of course there are different situations in the game where certain routes were covered. So it was a group effort and we are going to get it fixed.”

 

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55 comments Add your comment

Dennis

October 5th, 2012
10:35 am

Whatever the reason, it sure wasn’t pretty.

JD2 The Duke

October 5th, 2012
10:38 am

Inquiring Minds...

October 5th, 2012
10:44 am

Is there a special club for those who proclaim FIRST?

As a follow-on, what about those who trumpet their accomplishment only to find out they really weren’t?

Michael M.

October 5th, 2012
10:46 am

There is only two undefeated teams left in the NFL, Atlanta’s game and Houston’ game both could be trap games for either team……..the question is who will be the undisputed team with the best record in football after this weekend ?
The Falcons-Skins game probably will be a close tight game in the first half on the scoreboard but look for the Falcons and Matty Ice, the ” Assassin ” to dissect the Redskins defense in the second half and walk away with the ” W ” Falcons 41 – Redskins 27…………………………..the difference ?
Quarterback – Pro vs. Rookie

Mike "CHOKE" Dogs To Death

October 5th, 2012
10:59 am

Matt Ryan is having a career year with only a so-so, below average offensive line, thanks to his intense work ethic these past five years, along with some pretty special targets. He no longer seems to fold when the pocket collapses. Despite being sacked seven times Sunday, he still threw three touchdowns and won the game. Oh yeah, and he’s 4-0.

The guy he replaced is still running all over the backfield as if this were sandlot football! After nine years in the league plus two in the pen, he is finally getting around to watching a little game film. It’s about time! Oh yeah, and he’s 2-2.

HA HA :)

Beckzhere

October 5th, 2012
11:06 am

Ryan for MVP. That sounds really nice!

Grape Nuts are neither grapes or nuts

October 5th, 2012
11:22 am

So what this is saying everyone messed up and the team is doomed?

JSS

October 5th, 2012
11:22 am

Whew, great high level football talk on this blog (not)!

Invisible Man

October 5th, 2012
11:37 am

Matt Ryan is my king-daddy pick to play in da super bowl this year fellas !

Keeping it real

October 5th, 2012
12:03 pm

The falcons are lucky to be 4-0,they should have loss last wk,being out played,and giving up 7 sacks don’t sound like a team thats going to be without a loss very long.The Falcons were 4-0 once before and thier season turned into a nightmare,but they have better talent now than they had back then,so lets hope the Magic continues on this year,and in to the playoffs.

Falconfever

October 5th, 2012
12:13 pm

I hate the Redskins….. UGH

Invisible Man

October 5th, 2012
12:16 pm

How many trolls can u fit in one large Aints paper head sack ?

reveal the answer shortly !

Rick

October 5th, 2012
12:18 pm

I have but one question.
Where is “Seen this b4?”
Sure is quiet in the big sleazy, er…uh.. I mean the big easy.
I really had no problems with the saints fans over the years, we both had bad teams for so long, we cold relate to each others pain.
Then they win(*) a super bowl and all of a sudden they get real obnoxious. Like they are NFL elite.
The football Gods have spoken, the Falcons are flying high and all is well.

Buddy Landel

October 5th, 2012
12:20 pm

Inquiring Minds…

October 5th, 2012
10:44 am
Is there a special club for those who proclaim FIRST?

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
There should also be a club for those who make excuses why they weren’t first. On two different blogs I’ve read “I shouldn’t have read the article first” or “I shouldn’t have spoken to my secretary” as excuses why they weren’t first.

Falcons Rule.

October 5th, 2012
12:21 pm

Falcons in a romp against the skins…..55-3. We gonna take out RG3 by halftime 5-0 baby……only a matter of time until 16-0, 19-0, and hoisting that Lombardi. Mattie Ice for league and SB MVP…….oh and Aints go 0-16…..if this is a dream, I don’t ever wannna wake up. Michael M. you are still a azz clown.

Buddy Landel

October 5th, 2012
12:22 pm

JSS

October 5th, 2012
11:22 am
Whew, great high level football talk on this blog (not)!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Haven’t heard “not” used like that at the end of a sentence since about ‘95. Thanks for taking me back there.

Buddy Landel

October 5th, 2012
12:24 pm

One of the worst stats in sports is crediting wins to a single player in team sports. Pitchers, goalies, and QBs get waaaay too much credit when their teams win games.

LOL at The Aints

October 5th, 2012
12:26 pm

JSS @ 11:22,, thanks for bringing it back down a notch! LOL!

Invisible Man

October 5th, 2012
12:30 pm

Jss is my beech. lololol

Invisible Man

October 5th, 2012
12:32 pm

How many trolls can u fit in one large Aints paper head sack ?

Answer is , many will go in it, but few stay cause they always slipping thru the eyelet holes and up our cracks.

Danny

October 5th, 2012
12:38 pm

JSS ? There goes the neighborhood, okay who left the gate open ??

Robert Yates

October 5th, 2012
12:44 pm

I was about to credit D.O.L for improving his writing from his previous stories to this one until I saw that the great M.C. wrote it. For god’s sake please take over the Falcons beat M.C!!! I miss you on the Hawk’s blog enough, but Viv is a capable replacement.
Tell me M.C…..did D.O.L. convince you to insert that line about Mike Turner “drinking his running woes away” in your TV article? I heard him ask Michael Turner that question in a video and Mike answered with such confusion over why he would even come with that. Why must he insist on crap that doesn’t exist, and then continue to ask the question in his blogs after Mike has already responded that one thing had nothing to do with the other. The dude was just partying, and I’d do the same if I had it like that…..though I would call a cab also.

Larry

October 5th, 2012
1:22 pm

For those few remaining cognitive deficients that question Matt Ryan, imagine for a moment what the 4-0 Falcons would become should at any moment on Sunday he goes down for the season?

Indeed, considering this team’s still inability to pass protect and rush the opposing QB, Matt Ryan is by far the MVP for any team in the NFL..

I usually just read but...

October 5th, 2012
1:25 pm

I like MR alot. He’s the smartest QB in the NFL. So what was he thinking when he took a sack by being pushed out of bounds? I mean, he was out of the pocket wasn’t he? Com’on Mat, throw the dang ball away!

Answer This

October 5th, 2012
1:36 pm

So all the people who needed to take accountability……..did so! That is what a good football teams does. Before they point fingers they look in the mirror and point fingers at the one looking back! This tells me we will make adjustments to what happened last week and be ready to:
1. Throw the ball away and not hold it so long.
2. Shorten your routes……if it is not there deep, come back and help.
3. Block one second longer…….one second is a world of a difference.
4. Adjust your play calls to the blitz, DK, dont get to greedy but keep attacking!
5. ATTACK!
I love the Rise Up Nation talking about winning, and if that is the best convo you have that it 100% good enough for me! Keep talking and we keep winning baby!

Loyalfalconfrmthemississippi

October 5th, 2012
1:48 pm

Everybody makes mistakes noone is perfect i realized this when i saw peyton manning throw three picks in three consecutive drives against our falcons matt ryan will make mistakes just like all the others will the question is will he be able to over come those mistakes and still play at a high level. Last week he answered that question he definately can over come and achieve greatness

mountain_jim

October 5th, 2012
1:51 pm

Clabo is the weak link in pass protection this year. He was terrible last game.

Did not see any quotes from him about having to do a better job… :(

JSS

October 5th, 2012
2:00 pm

And your collective football IQs still have starfish laughing… @12:24… Tell Rick Scott to write your pardon papers at the same time he writes his own… @ 12:38P… What? Are you still blogging on Perdue Farms time?

David

October 5th, 2012
2:09 pm

Sound like he’s trying to pass the buck, I saw the game and the O Line look like crap.

LOL at The Aints

October 5th, 2012
2:32 pm

Perdue Farms Time? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA,, JSS made a funny. NOT!! LOL, Look goober. If you dont have anything intelligent to add just shut up..LOL

LOL at The Aints

October 5th, 2012
2:37 pm

Like my Mom used to say,, if you dont have anything nice to say shut your big fat mouth, LOL!

JSS

October 5th, 2012
3:12 pm

“If you dont have anything intelligent to add just shut up.”

But you’re still commenting? 4 hours of comments and only the one at 12:03PM touched on the subject or pointed out anything remotely in the area of the pass protection… Yeah hall monitor, you keep up the good work… Ms. Petersen will let you clean the chalk board after recess…

easynow

October 5th, 2012
3:26 pm

Ryan is in his 5th year & I think he should have the sense to get rid of the football when the pocket collapses ..No dam reason in the world he should “eat” the ball & take the sack! Another thing..we do NOT pay him to run the ball..he just does not have the moxie of the “slide”!!
Here are a few things I want to see Sunday: Offensive line pass protection: I don’t give a hooters dam what the coach says: its you morons on the offensive line that have to “Protect” at all cost! I want to see the “screen” pass more in the game, especially to Jones,Turner & Rogers..I want to see more EXPLOSIVE plays of 20 yards or more! Defense: when are you guys going to learn how to rush the passer? When are you going to protect against the run up the “gut”?? When will you “contain” the end around run?? Will you EVER get off the field on 3rd and long??
If you don’t show a large improvement this week over last, you will surely loose! Go Falcons

JSS

October 5th, 2012
3:41 pm

Easynow, sometimes you have to take a sack… But moments like that stupid rollout sack is not one them…

bama52

October 5th, 2012
3:44 pm

We need some of the young fellows to play on the O Line. May by Baker and Reynolds will get better. I know Konz and Holmes are ready to play.

Michael M.

October 5th, 2012
3:45 pm

Winning and staying undefeated will be a Franchise Record I believe and getting out from up there with no injuries is critical for the Falcons this weekend………………………………..lets get the chalkboard ready and put some plays up there on it with X’s and O’s to make Professor JSS happy over in Ronald McDonald land !…………………some on here are hilarious ………………indeed !

JSS

October 5th, 2012
4:14 pm

“lets get the chalkboard ready and put some plays up there on it with X’s and O’s to make Professor JSS happy over in Ronald McDonald land !”

Next time get the sweet iced tea order right at the drive-thru…

inkspot

October 5th, 2012
4:37 pm

I actually want Ryan holding on to the ball. Ryan has been throwing it out of bounds like a robot over the last few seasons when facing pressure. I like Ryan the way he is now…. FEARLESS…. I know he might take a few more sacks but as long as Matt Ryan plays FEARLESS, this Falcons team is gonna continue to win and look good doing it.

Bovine Statements

October 5th, 2012
4:55 pm

I call BS on the coach’s. They are just trying to protect the psychic of their OLine. The OLine was horrible in the Caroline game. The games before they played really well, which is why Ryan is having a big year. So far.

Kenny Johnson

October 5th, 2012
4:59 pm

concerning taking a bad sack: even the immortal Drew Breeze will make a mistake every now and then. I can recall a few picks against ATL that he should have taken sacks on…anyway, hurry up and send lance moore out to the flat so I can do this to him:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG41KUojues

LOL at The Aints

October 5th, 2012
5:22 pm

Yes JSS, I am still commenting and you are still responding which says more about you than it does about me smart guy. Hall monitor, I like that, LOL

JSS

October 5th, 2012
5:29 pm

Still hogging all the bandwidth at the Flying J? Or are you stopping by after cleaning chalkboards the last 2 hours to catch up?

HC007

October 5th, 2012
6:50 pm

Anybody heard about Konz, is he a bust?

East Atlanta Ron

October 5th, 2012
8:21 pm

Reminder to Mike “CHOKE” Dogs To Death… The Eagles are 3-1 not 2-2… Can you read?

[...] are sitting very pretty in the race for the NFC South division crown. That ob more… Atlanta Falcons: Pass protection issues go beyond line – blogs.ajc.com 10/05/2012 Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan faced a heavy pass rush from [...]

LOL at JSS

October 5th, 2012
11:50 pm

and yet you keep responding, I’m Astounded by the irony, LOL

LOL at the Aints

October 5th, 2012
11:52 pm

East Atlanta whatever your name is, whats your point,, Falcons will be 5 and OH,, Oh, and JSS,, bite me, LOL

TalkReal

October 6th, 2012
12:15 am

Gratarticle, I learned alot from reading this.

Samuel

October 6th, 2012
5:14 am

The O line has problems with athletic defensive lineman. hopefully we can shore up these issue before kickoff.

Trevor

October 6th, 2012
10:41 am

Just win Baby!winning cures all mistakes!

[...] coach Mike Smith won’t blame the seven sacks and 12 other hits of QB Matt Ryan in Week Four solely on the offensive line; other factors included [...]

[...] coach Mike Smith won’t blame the seven sacks and 12 other hits of QB Matt Ryan in Week Four solely on the offensive line; other factors included [...]

JSS

October 6th, 2012
4:10 pm

LOL at the Aints
October 5th, 2012
11:52 pm
“Oh, and JSS,, bite me, LOL”

Nope, I follow CDC warnings, you’re Typhoid LOL! I like living to much to take such an unwarranted risk…

JSS

October 6th, 2012
4:11 pm

“too much”

[...] Atlanta Falcons: Pass protection issues go beyond line Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan gets a pass off under pressure from Carolina Panthers defensive end Frank Alexander during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday , Sept. 30, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]