Roddy White won't come out and say that Pat Hill deserved to be fired, but he's sure not shy about calling out the offensive line. To be sure, this is one occasion where White speaking out makes a lot of sense. Matt Ryan is his quarterback, and while he won't pull a Terrell Owens, there's no censoring the man when he's passionate about someone or something.
"Next year, that's got to be something that we improve: We've got to keep our quarterback clean because he's not going to make it," White said. "You keep taking hits and hits and you're not going to make it. We're going to have to find ways to get him protected, keep him upright so he can do what he do and that's make throws and win football games."
Ryan is not going to make it. I couldn't have said it better myself. As Ryan pointed out, he somehow made it through this season sans serious injury. I'm quite sure he's very sore today, after the Panthers' defensive front got in their licks. But he may not be as lucky going forward. In fact, odds are that he won't be so lucky unless the offensive line drastically improves this off-season.
The first step was firing Pat Hill. The front office showed some courage by doing that. Now comes the personnel evaluation. Put simply, what do the Falcons have? At this point, the answer to that question is unclear. Ryan was sacked 50 times this year, second-most in the league (Eli Manning was sacked 56 times). This offensive line had an 8 percent adjusted sack rate in 2013, 24th in the league. They have to do better. Or, you guessed it, Ryan will not make it.