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Getting The Most Out of Matt Ryan in 2014

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Remember a few weeks into the season when the offensive line was a strength? Does it feel like ages ago? Those days are long gone, but the Falcons can still make some changes to get the most out of Matt Ryan this season.

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This photo is elite.
This photo is elite.
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Can Matt Ryan get a little help? No one has been making his job easy. The offense seems to be geared towards rupturing Ryan's spleen. The wide receivers could not catch Ebola on a standard cruise, the tight ends have been egregious, the entire offensive line is beaten up and the team does not run the ball.

Ryan is getting beaten up, and was probably lucky to even make it out of last year without any major injuries. This year he may not be so lucky.

Lets Run

The Ravens game is a great illustration of how the Falcons let the game get out of hand and are forced to play desperation football. Ryan dropped back 50 times, getting sacked five times.

They were only able to run the ball 16 times, one on a Ryan scramble.

Teams have focused on stopping the pass, knowing the Falcons do not effectively run the ball and have not dedicated attention to this side of the ball. With a poor offensive line, defenses can tee off on Ryan while still doubling Julio Jones.

The Falcons can help Ryan by putting an emphasis on the run game, a la a Mike Mularkey offense. If you are still reading this, thanks for not leaving after the mention of Mularkey's name.

This will take some pressure off of the offensive line, allowing them to run block and slowing down the pass rush on passing downs. The team is without a punishing back like Michael Turner, but should increase the snaps for every non-Steven Jackson running back.

And if you have any idea why Steven Jackson gets more touches than every other running back, I would love to know. On eight rushes, he ran for a long of four yards. Most other backs average that number. Every other running back is averaging more than 4 YPC behind that same offensive line.

Jackson is averaging an egregious 3.7 YPC and 6.0 yards per catch. He is not about to get any better and is on pace to finish the year with under 700 yards.

The Falcons should give a heavy dose of touches to Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman. Defenses will be forced to account for the run game, opening up the offense and keeping Ryan from finishing the year in a body bag.

Less Toilolo

Lets make this short. Levine Toilolo was a surprise pick and raw talent last season. He was given very few snaps in 2013 and it shows in 2014. He can not block and can not catch. None of this is new but the team decided not to address the tight end position. Pro Football Focus ranks him as the 2nd worst tight end in the league.

He needs to see significantly less snaps.

Bear Pascoe, a big, blocking specialist who has only played 55 snaps this season, should play and help the struggling offensive line. The team saw how bad the line can look without a blocking tight end on the roster last season, addressed the problem, but he does not see the field. He may be forced into action now that the team does not have any competent backup tackle that can come in for jumbo packages.

Sit Jake

Jake Matthews continues to struggle as he heals up from injury. Did we not learn trotting out a struggling, injured player for weeks on end is not a great idea last season? This team is not making a realistic push for the playoffs, especially with Jake playing as poorly as he is playing.

Sit Jake for a few weeks, let him heal. Do not risk further injury and a loss of confidence in the rookie. Even a struggling Gabe Carimi would not be a step down at left tackle.

Focus on Short Passing

While it is important to take a few shots down the field, the offensive line is not protecting Ryan and these receivers are not catching the ball. This may sound like we are going full Mularkey, and you never go full Mularkey, but the team should focus on short, high completion passes and let the receivers make a play.

However, similar to a Mularkey offense, these changes will make the offense more conservative and may limit the amount of points the team can score. This team is not about to win any shoot outs, and really, need to worry about the last point.

Give The Defense a Break

What should the team try to do with an incompetent defense? Drop Kroy Biermann into coverage on wide receivers Keep them off the field. It should not shock you that the Falcons are in the bottom third of time of possession per game.

That means this awful defense is on the field more than most other defenses.

If we run the ball, and move to a more conservative offense, we can keep them from getting gassed and making every quarterback look like a Hall of Famer.

Give Matt Ryan the Reins

Ryan has always succeeded in the no-huddle, taking control of the offense and exploiting matchups. Let our franchise quarterback mix in a heavy dose of play action, help the offensive line, make it easier on the wide receivers, take the pressure off of the defense, and mix in the deep ball after defenses adjust.

At the very least, we can keep Ryan healthy going into next year.