Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Koetter: Ryan can't be at best when hit
By Vaughn McClure
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter doesn't base everything on statistics because he understands they can sometimes be deceiving.
So when Koetter sees how quarterback Matt Ryan has been sacked a career-high 30 times this season, he looks at the number from a different perspective.
"I think we were seventh going into last week in sacks [per pass attempt], so what are those teams that are getting sacked more than us? If we don't think ours are bad, there must be 25 other teams worse than us,'' Koetter said.
"But our goal is to have one or less sacks every game. We've done it before. That's a hard goal to reach. But there are no quarterbacks in the league that are going to play their best getting hit 12 times. We always have to keep an eye on that, from a health-standpoint.''
Ryan hasn't missed a game this season, but he's been noticeably battered and bruised throughout. He's absorbed 11 sacks over the past two games alone. In those contests -- a loss to the New Orleans Saints and an overtime win over the Buffalo Bills -- Ryan was hit 19 times total.
Speaking specifically about the game against the Bills, Koetter absorbed his share of the blame.
"We have about seven or eight things that are goals for us every week, and sacks is one of them,'' Koetter explained. "We hit like almost every one of our goals last week, but we didn't hit that one. Matt got hit too many times. And we got sacked too many times. Not every one of those ... a couple of those were scheme-related, which were my fault, not theirs.''
Koetter and Ryan have made a conscious effort to take shorter drops and deliver the ball quicker to help compensate for protection issues. Regardless, opposing defenses have gotten 74 hits on Ryan this season to go with the 30 sacks. Ryan has been hit five or more times in eight different games. And it won't get any easier this Sunday in Green Bay against Clay Matthews and the Packers, who are tied for third in the league with 38 sacks.
Despite all the pressure on Ryan, Koetter still praised the quarterback's performance.
"Matt is still one of the top-tier quarterbacks in the NFL,'' Koetter said. "He's had some games better than others. But, there are not too many guys we'd be trading him for, in my opinion.''