In the fourth quarter of Sunday’s blowout loss to the Rams – the latest story in what has been a woeful 2019 season for Atlanta – Matt Ryan suffered an ankle injury on a sack by Aaron Donald. The former MVP left the game and was seen later in a walking boot. He’s scheduled to undergo an MRI today, but the team does not think it is anything serious. However, at 1-6, there is little reason to trot him back out there until he is 110 percent on the healthy side.
Through only seven weeks, the Falcons season has lost most of its purpose. The playoffs are a pipe dream. Only the 1970 Cincinnati Bengals made it to the postseason after starting the year 1-6. I don’t know anything about that Bengals team, but I highly doubt they were as flawed as this year’s Falcons.
Atlanta hasn’t recorded a sack in four weeks, becoming only the seventh team in NFL history to do so. The worst part about that stat might be that the Falcons faced three of the worst offensive lines in the league over that stretch. Their defensive line is a one-man-band with starting edge rushers that have combined for two sacks the entire year. The Falcons may have whiffed on two first-rounders in Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley, but where they failed is neglecting to give them help for several years. A semi-decent pass rush might not make this secondary look as pitiful as they have.
That’s not to say the secondary is any better. The Falcons’ pass defense is centered around blown coverages and easy completions. If that’s what Dan Quinn was going for as the new defensive coordinator, he’s a genius. I’m not going to put all the Falcons’ coverage woes on Quinn, but considering he’s also responsible for most of the personnel on the field, I’m not sure how Blank allows him to make it through the bye week.
Offensively, it’s been a mixed-bag led by Ryan, who has been magnificent outside of a shoddy start. The offensive line remains a lingering question mark despite the Falcons drafting two linemen in the first round, which is all the more reason Ryan shouldn’t be rushed back. It doesn’t help that both guard positions have been plagued by injuries, including 14th overall pick Chris Lindstrom, who was placed on IR on September 9th.
Beyond their play on the field, many of these players won’t be a part of the next regime. There are obvious free agents that won’t be retained like Vic Beasley, but there will also be several veterans on the chopping block – like Mohamed Sanu and Devonta Freeman. This team will look completely different a year from now, and as much as it pains me to say, Atlanta’s draft pick is the best thing that can come out of this season – that’s how far this team has fallen.
I’ve never been one to root for a higher draft selection, and as long as these guys strap up on Sundays and put their bodies on the line, I’m going to be cheering for them to win. However, Matt Ryan can sit this one out for a few weeks. The last thing this Falcons’ season needs to do is ruin next year as well. Time to hop on the Matt Schaub hype train.
We will keep you updated with Ryan’s injury diagnosis when it is released.