Mission Possible: Keep Matt Ryan Alive In 2012

Protect this rose of the South. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The offensive line has been asked to do two basic things over the last four years: Block for Michael Turner and block for Matt Ryan. Last year, they didn't do either of those things well, and that was a major reason the Falcons struggled for long stretches.

This season, at least, the line won't be asked to do much multi-tasking. That's not to say they won't need to run block, because that's a part of any balanced offense. But clearly the team recognizes that the poor protection surrounding Matt Ryan lost them games last year.

Todd McClure has affirmed that the line's primary goal this season is to protect Ryan from harm. While that's sort of obvious and makes you wonder what, exactly, the line's goal was a year ago, it's nonetheless comforting to hear the team's elder statesman talk about how this is truly a priority, and how Pat Hill is all about making the changes necessary.

Let's face it: Another season of Ryan getting drilled for 25+ sacks doesn't bode well for this offense, and it would especially screw up what we all hope will be a high-octane passing game. If the Falcons fix one thing this off-season—and I'm aware they need to do more than that, but still—let it please be the offensive line.

Who do you think will end up being the starting five?

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