Behind an offensive line that morphed into a sieve, with no running game to take off pressure, Matt Ryan has become a sitting duck.
Sitting at 4-8, with the playoffs just a pipedream that coaches and player convince themselves remains relevant, watching Ryan take a beating has become an issue.
"Well, No. 1, I'm concerned about it because if we're not protecting him in the way that we can, then that gets hard," coach Dan Quinn said Monday, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN. "And there's some games that the score's out of whack and it turns into a dropback game where there's going to be more chances for a defense to go after him.
"At the end of it, yeah, I'm concerned. But I'm as concerned about us playing as well as we can. And if we do do that, and if we play better on some of the third downs and allow some of our run game to get going again, I would anticipate those numbers going back the other way in terms of hits on Matt."
Ryan has been sacked 12 times in the last three games alone as teams bring waves of blitz packages against a banged-up, underperforming offensive line. In eight of his 12 starts this season, the Falcons QB has been sacked at least three times (six twice).
The issue for the Falcons is how much punishment do they subject Ryan to in the final month of the season. Would putting their franchise quarterback in bubble-wrap be the answer?
Likely, Ryan's competitiveness, coupled with the message that could send to the rest of the players would stop the Falcons from sending the starting quarterback to the bench, at least before Week 17. Given that Matt Schaub is the backup, the Falcons don't have the built-in excuse of getting a young gun some live reps.
Quinn might be concerned about the hits Ryan is taking, but unless the Falcons change offensive philosophies in the final month of the season, the franchise signal-caller is likely to continue getting pounded until the season is mercifully over.