The poor pass protection that led to Matt Ryan being sacked a career-high seven times go beyond the offensive line, reports Michael Cunningham at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Talking with Falcons head coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Cunningham has some insight on what allowed the Carolina Panthers' pass rush to stay in Ryan's face all afternoon.
Ryan has been sacked 10 times in four games the Falcons have played this season, losing an average of 5.9 yards each time. According to Smith and Koetter, the fault for this goes beyond the offensive line, and extends to things like route running, how long Ryan holds the ball, and the ability of backs to pick up blocks. Center Todd McClure and guard Justin Blalock admitted that responsibility for protecting Ryan ultimately rests with them, but Koetter pointed out that there's more to it than that. As he's quoted in the article:
"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. If the ball doesn't come out quick, you are left out to dry a little bit."
The Washington Redskins defense is suffering in the absence of Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker, but Atlanta will need to step up their protection if they want to make sure the team improves to 5-0.