Mike Smith isn't happy, and he made that known today.
When asked why Ryan has thrown seven interceptions over the past two games, Smith refused to point the finger solely at his quarterback.
"Guys, we’ve got to take care of the football," Smith said. "Possession of the football is nine-tenths of the game. That’s what you’ve got to do when you’re on the offensive side of the ball: You have to possess the football. And it’s not just the responsibility of the quarterback. It’s the responsibility of everyone on the offensive side, including the coaches in terms of making sure that we take care of the ball.
The Falcons now have the 28th ranked turnover margin/game at -0.9. Consider that. The Falcons are averaging almost one more turnover a game than their opponents in each game this year. It's hard to win games like that. Seven interceptions in the last two games have obviously inflated that number, but the number itself is still quite alarming. It still tells us a lot.
I appreciate Smith's lack of commentary here. Never thought I'd say that, because normally Smith deals in platitudes, throwing out coach speak like he's being novel. But I do think Smith did the right thing by not taking the bait regarding Ryan. Sure, Ryan didn't have to throw into triple coverage twice against Carolina on Sunday, but those 7 interceptions aren't entirely his fault. He's playing behind an offensive line that's giving him no time to throw. You could put any number of hall of fame quarterbacks back there and they'd struggle.
Consider that Ryan has only had an interception percentage north of 3 percent twice in his career, this year (3.0 percent) and in 2009 (3.1 percent). His career average is 2.4 percent, so from a numbers perspective, Ryan has the ability to right the ship. Better to give him the space to do that than to humor the alternative. In other words, no use throwing your franchise quarterback under the bus after just two particularly bad games.