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Rehashing the 8 sacks Falcons allowed against Saints: From the notebook - The Athletic


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by Tori McElhaney for The Athletic 

 

One sack. Two sacks. Three sacks. Four. 

The Falcons couldn’t stop the Saints. So, add four sacks more. 

In case you were wondering, I obviously missed my calling as a children’s book author.

But all jokes aside, the Saints’ eight sacks of Matt Ryan throughout the Falcons’ Sunday afternoon loss were anything but funny for Atlanta. They showcased some poignant faults and failures of various aspects of the Falcons’ offense. From a one-dimensional game on Dirk Koetter’s part to Ryan holding on to the ball for too long to breakdowns in protections and missed opportunities in one-on-one situations by the wide receivers, it was a lackluster showing from the top-down offensively, and the sacks highlighted that.

So, in my notebook, I started taking notes on these sacks during the postgame to see where the most considerable breakdown was. Raheem Morris spoke more of the fault on the receivers for not getting open for Ryan. Jake Matthews said the offensive line was “a little bit all over the place” in regard to its protection. Ryan noted the Saints did a good job of using different rush packages and putting stress on the protection.

So, what was the biggest problem? Well, to figure that out let’s break down each of the eight sacks.

Sack No. 1 

The situation: 8:24 left in the first quarter. The Falcons face a third-and-11 from their own 31-yard line.

Targets: Four

Rush: Five

Protection: Five linemen with Brian Hill

Time from snap to sack: 3.73 seconds

What happened: Cam Jordan beat Kaleb McGary on a one-on-one on the right side of the protection. McGary did not stay glued to Jordan.

How did the drive end: The sack ended the drive. The Falcons were forced to punt.

Sack No. 2

The situation: 2:47 left in the first quarter. The Falcons had first-and-10 from their own 25.

Targets: Five

Rush: Four

Protection: Five

Time from snap to sack: 5.36 seconds

What happened: Ryan rolled out and didn’t find an open receiver. He tried to scramble to make Trey Hendrickson miss, but Ryan couldn’t shake him and got dropped right at the line of scrimmage.

How did the drive end: Ryan connected with Julio Jones on the next play for a pickup of 17 yards. The Falcons put together a few more plays before sending Younghoe Koo out for the 51-yard field goal.

Sack No. 3

The situation: 9:52 left in the second quarter. The Falcons are at midfield, third-and-3.

Targets: Four

Rush: Five

Protection: Five linemen with Hill

Time from snap to sack: 2.70 seconds

What happened: Hendrickson got a good jump on Jake Matthews and muscled him back into Ryan.

How did the drive end: The sack ended the drive. The Falcons were forced to punt.

Sack No. 4

The situation: 1:14 seconds left before halftime. The Falcons are on the Saints’ 39, and it’s third-and-2.

Targets: Four

Rush: Four

Protection: Five linemen with Hill

Time from snap to sack: 5.12 seconds

What happened: Jordan beat McGary and Chris Lindstrom on a double team. Hill also whiffed on blocking Malcom Brown, who caused Ryan to pause before Jordan finished him off.

How did the drive end: The sack put the Falcons out of field goal range so they had to try for a last-second Hail Mary to the end zone. Ryan was picked off.

Sack No. 5

The situation: 9:11 left in the third quarter. The Falcons began their drive on their own 25, first-and-10.

Targets: Four

Rush: Six

Protection: Five linemen with Luke Stocker

Time from snap to sack: Four seconds

What happened: McGary and Lindstrom double team Brown and allow Demario Davis to slip by untouched.

How did the drive end: Please see Sack No. 6 below.

Sack No. 6

The situation: 8:02 left in the third quarter. Same drive as above, now third-and-13 from the Atlanta 22.

Targets: Five

Rush: Four

Protection: Five

Time from snap to sack: 3.83 seconds

What happened: David Onyemata was tripped up on his initial jump at the snap and crawled forward below James Carpenter to in turn trip up Ryan as he stepped up in the pocket.

How did the drive end: This second sack of the drive ended it, and the Falcons were forced to punt.

Sack No. 7

The situation: The Falcons had another third-and-long situation from their own 20. It was third-and-7 with 11:54 left in the fourth quarter.

Targets: Five

Rush: Four

Protection: Five

Time from snap to sack: 4.05 seconds

What happened: Hendrickson got another good push on Matthews causing the left side of the pocket to collapse. Ryan scrambled right while Jordan shook free of McGary. Jordan caught Ryan before he could get to the line of scrimmage.

How did the drive end: This sack ended the drive, and the Falcons were forced to punt. At this point, the Falcons had minus-4 total yards of offense in the second half.

Sack No. 8

The situation: With yet another third-and-long situation (are you sensing a theme here yet?), the Falcons only had 7:06 left in the game. They were on their own 31 and ha  10 yards to go for a first down.

Targets: Four

Rush: Five

Protection: Five linemen with Hill

Time from snap to sack: 3.83 seconds

What happened: Onyemata slid in between Alex Mack and Carpenter again, partially falling, partially diving forward to grab onto Ryan’s legs to bring him down.

How did the drive end: This drive actually continued after the third-down sack with Ryan hitting Jones for a 22-yard pickup. But Ryan threw an interception two plays later.

What players and coaches had to say Monday

Morris on whether he felt the offense was too one-dimensional: “We didn’t do a good enough job in the second half of running the ball versus two-high to make (the Saints) one-dimensional. What they did to us was they really got after us and then got up with a two-score lead and made us one-dimensional. So, I wouldn’t say it was anything that I looked at us and said we were too one-dimensional when the game kind of got away from us in the second half becoming a two-score game. That’s what happens to you. You become one-dimensional. We had to rely on the pass and allow them to stay in two-man and really man us up and go man underneath some of our really good wideouts. They made Matt hold on to the ball to cause some of those unnecessary sacks. Things that usually don’t occur when you plan and dictate terms like you like to on offense.”

Morris on how long the Falcons ideally would like to give Ryan in the pocket: “That’s really analytically driven on how long you want the ball to come out of his hand. We have a progression on a lot of the plays that we have. Matt, one of his best attributes is being able to distribute the ball in the timing and rhythm of the play. We want to be able to get it out in the timing and rhythm of the play, whatever that play is. So based on the down and distance, based on the situation and based on whether we’re taking a shot or not, that will all change based on what our mentality is and how we structure that in our offense. So, it’s really hard for me to answer exactly the time, but it’s got to be within the timing of the play when you’re talking about that.”

Mack on what he thought broke down within the offense: “We had a lot of man-blocks, and we weren’t able to mix up our protection, especially in the second half when we weren’t able to run the ball as much as we wanted to. We were just throwing it a bunch. That’s going back to (being) one-dimensional. You’re better as an offense when the defense doesn’t know what you are going to do, and we didn’t do a good enough job of doing that.”

Koetter on what wasn’t working offensively: “Our pass game has bailed us out of a lot of issues this season, and this is the game where it’s the first time in a long time where our pass game hasn’t been able to bail us out. We couldn’t get anything going. The play-passes weren’t there. The quick game wasn’t working. The keepers, the bootlegs wasn’t there. We’ve seen this movie before where we get into a game where we are relying on too much on drop-back. … We just can’t survive like that.”

Koetter on what the Falcons have to change when they play the Saints the second time: “I’d like to not go over those with (the media) since we play them again in two weeks.”

The overall consensus

Here’s the thing: Those eight sacks? They’re on everyone.

When you really dive deep and break them down, the blame can be spread around. It likely would be an easier fix if it was just one problem that could be pinpointed and corrected. But it’s not.

A couple of times, Ryan held on to the ball for too long, unable to find the open man (Sack No. 4). A few times, the protection broke down with either linemen beaten in one-on-one matchups (Sack No. 3) or getting overset on a slide (Sack No. 5). Then, there were a few coverage sacks, with the Falcons’ receivers unable to get open or able to win some one-on-one matchups of their own (Sack No. 2).

Morris said there were many decisions made that everyone wanted back. At every level of the offense from the coordinator to the unit to the individual position groups, these sacks didn’t come simply because of one problem or for one reason.
 

 

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Very fair assessment. The one sack Ryan couldn't take was the one that dropped us out of fg range. At the same time, we had a double team with Lindstrom and Mcgary on Jordan and still lost. That is inexcusable all around.

The big issue that this game showed was that our lack of run game is killing us. They were able to sit back with 2 deep and play tight man. We have to be able to run against that type of defense, but Koetter refuses to play to our lines strengths...

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Yeah, when you get into most of these being 3rd down situations, you realize those balls shouldn't have been thrown away.  You should hold the ball and try to make a play on 3rd down, because otherwise the other team gets the ball back.

The exception being the one in field goal range.

What was clear was that the passing game/scheme wasn't working at all.

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That Saints D was really firing on all cylinders. It was hard to say if it was the tough coverage or the relentless pass rush that messed us up worse. 

My main issue though, is that we have the personnel to beat the Saints, and we just didn't because we got so out-schemed. Koetter kept on biting on trying the deep pass, and it resulted in Matty getting sacked 8 times.

I know that who to blame is never black and white, and that everyone has their own failures and successes. But I put this pathetic performance squarely on Koetter. He never adjusted the play calls to deal with the unrelenting sacks. No run game. No short dink and dunk to keep drives alive. We see Koetter do this all the time when we're behind. He panics and tries to lob the ball deep in super obvious situations. And don't even get me started on running it up the middle on second and 10.

Koetter is the problem. A good OC could have this group as a top 5 scoring offense after one off season of adjustment. Fire Dirk Koetter.

Edited by ATLskinjob
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17 minutes ago, Osiruz said:

You shouldn't get sacked by holding onto the ball over 5 seconds. 

Right.  There was, what, one sack where the snap to sack time was under 3 seconds?

That's either gameplan (routes take too long) or execution (receivers not doing their job).  Simple as that.

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Ultimately, The New Orleans Saints team just whooped our butts in every facet of the game because our pathetic franchise just can't keep up anymore.  

Outcoached, outphysicalled, out hustled, outschemed, outsmarted, & generally embarrassed as per the usual circumstances for a franchise that earned a reputation as the dumbest in the league.

As for Morris, he took over during our easiest stretch & was unable to put up a decent performance against our arch rival, division opponent without their franchise QB.  

So it's safe to say that our players suck, our coaches suck & our owner sucks.  If AB wants to allow frat boy clownshow Rick McKay the nerd to run the show, then we can expect more long term franchise set backs in the future. 

Our team doesn't deserve a following.  This game proves out, yet again, that it is incapable of performances that don't lead to extreme frustration, anger & disillusionment.  Blow this entire clownshow up from the coaches on down.

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I find it disturbing that Morris said the following things after the game:

a. The Falcons were more physical than NO.  Clearly we were not.  And

b. The Falcons were fine on 1st & 2nd downs.  We were atrocious on all 3 downs

 

Ww must be watching a different game, Raheem

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7 minutes ago, ATLskinjob said:

That Saints D was really firing on all cylinders. It was hard to say if it was the tough coverage or the relentless pass rush that messed us up worse. 

My main issue though, is that we have the personnel to beat the Saints, and we just didn't because we got so out-schemed. Koetter kept on biting on trying the deep pass, and it resulted in Matty getting sacked 8 times.

I know that who to blame is never black and white, and that everyone has their own failures and successes. But I put this pathetic performance squarely on Koetter. He never adjusted the play calls to deal with the unrelenting sacks. No run game. No short dink and dunk to keep drives alive. We see Koetter do this all the time when we're behind. He panics and tries to lob the ball deep in super obvious situations. And don't even get me started on running it up the middle on second and 10.

Koetter is the problem. A good OC could have this group as a top 5 scoring offense after one off season of adjustment. Fire Dirk Koetter.

Here is the problem with your thinking ( you are not the only one)

Some of the routes that Matt was sacked on were not deep routes nor were they particularly deep drops.

And we actually did adjust as in the second half we started using more protection including some some max protection looks and we tried ... unsuccessfully some quicker throws.

 

The saints just were better than we were on Sunday.

It happens.... just like we were better than them in the first game of 2019 when we held them to under 300 yards and 3 fg's.

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, falconsd56 said:

Here is the problem with your thinking ( you are not the only one)

Some of the routes that Matt was sacked on were not deep routes nor were they particularly deep drops.

And we actually did adjust as in the second half we started using more protection including some some max protection looks and we tried ... unsuccessfully some quicker throws.

 

The saints just were better than we were on Sunday.

It happens.... just like we were better than them in the first game of 2019 when we held them to under 300 yards and 3 fg's.

 

 

 

You’ll notice that like Brady, Matt Ryan is reading high to low which is less than ideal for both quarterbacks.  It leads to interception and sacks.  

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4 minutes ago, JDaveG said:

Right.  There was, what, one sack where the snap to sack time was under 3 seconds?

That's either gameplan (routes take too long) or execution (receivers not doing their job).  Simple as that.

There were 2 where If Ryan had better anticipation would have been completions...or atleast not sacks.. the receivers had the defenders trailing them and  while it would have required a good throw but they could have been good plays.

One thing that the saints did very well was use that 5 yards off the LOS.

They were grabbing and holding the entire 5 ( and sometimes 7,8,10 )yards , they got called for it 3 times but they took the Seahawks approach and figured that they won't call it every time.

 

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Thanks for posting that goob. here's a few things that jump out at me:

a. sack #4 should have been thrown away to save FG range, "touchdown or bust" thinking from ryan cost 3 points

b. #2 and #7 the time from snap to sack is misleading because those were plays where ryan was rolling out or scrambling (#2 he even made a guy miss and saved a 5-yard loss)

c. lots of 3rd and longs in there, sheesh

d. sacks on third down (with the exception of ones that take you out of fg range, see point a) while frustrating are not the end of the world. the whole "qb should throw the ball away" narrative is ignorant on thrid down, it's f*cking third down, an incompletion and we're punting anyways, qb just trying to make a play

e. i get people saying "when its 3rd and 2 ryan should try running for it when there's a hole", absolutely, i agree 100%. but half those sacks were 3rd and long, one was 3rd and 3 (sack #3), and one was 3rd and 2 (see point a)

f. on #5, i'm not sure where he's getting 4 targets from. we were in max pro and had 2 receivers running routes (and a rb released late but was blanketed), against 6 defenders dropped in coverage, that's terrible play design, like, horrendous.

have at'er folks....

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1 hour ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

I find it disturbing that Morris said the following things after the game:

a. The Falcons were more physical than NO.  Clearly we were not.  And

b. The Falcons were fine on 1st & 2nd downs.  We were atrocious on all 3 downs

 

Ww must be watching a different game, Raheem

Reason # 1,000 that he should NOT be the HC. 

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Our offense lack creativity.. how many 3rd and long did we get on the game??? our OL is good but we need to get the ball out quickly.. that is something I really dont get... DK is a QB killer... I really can expect anything more from this offense... our QB cannot stand 5 seconds to be able to get our WR open in DK routes.... 

We need a Offense to get rid of the ball quickly.. look at the rams yesterday.. look a the Pats al these years... 

Also DK cannot put a rushing plan to save his life...

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