The Atlanta Falcons need their franchise quarterback upright and healthy to be successful. In Matt Ryan, they have a durable, gritty player. You may gripe about his occasionally puzzling decision making, but there's no denying his knack for helping the Falcons win. And that's why your stomach curls when he takes a nasty hit.
Jason Worilds absolutely laid Ryan out in the 2nd quarter of the Falcons' loss to the Steelers yesterday. The play drew a roughing the passer penalty, when it arguably shouldn't have. For what it's worth, rookie left tackle Jake Matthews took the hit on Ryan personally. Credit to the Atlanta Falcons' Reid Ferrin for the quote.
“Honestly, I was very pissed off. As an offensive lineman, we take great pride in protecting the quarterback and never want to see him take a hit like that. We have to make sure to clean up those types of mistakes. That is unacceptable.”
First, this play wasn't Jake Matthews' fault. That said, it's sure nice to hear him voice his displeasure. At first I thought Bear Pascoe just blew his blocking assignment. Then I watched the video several times, and it looks like Pascoe simply released his man and went to get open in the flat.
Ryan Schraeder, meanwhile, was occupied with his man. Given that, you might even blame Ryan for a lack of pocket awareness, assuming the protection was what it was supposed to be. But Worilds came upon him very quickly, which makes it hard to believe Ryan knew or should've known he was coming.
In my mind, that leaves one possibility: the protection was off. Whether it was a bad play call or a lack or adjustment at the line, something wasn't right. You can blame that on James Stone, Ryan, and/or Dirk Koetter.