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Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Strength vs. strength: Ryan against the blitz

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

It’s never too early to start talking about the "Monday Night Football" game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, so let’s go ahead and get it started.

While coaches don’t go around handing out game plans in advance, I think there is one thing we might be safe in assuming. The New Orleans defense is probably going to come after Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan hard.

That makes sense because no team has blitzed more than the Saints this season and it’s pretty unlikely defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a creature of habit, is suddenly going to change his whole defensive philosophy.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Saints have sent five or more pass rushers on 50.7 percent of the drop backs by opponents this season.

But there is a flip side to that. Ryan has seen plenty of blitzes this season and handled them quite well. Ryan has faced five or more rushers on 179 of his drop backs. Only St. Louis rookie Sam Bradford (214) and Denver’s Kyle Orton (180) have faced more blitzes.

Those situations have not thrown Ryan off his game. He has completed 64.2 percent of his passes against the blitz for 1,262 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Ryan’s 99.9 passer rating against the blitz ranks sixth in the league.