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Rash of sacks becoming concern for Falcons

By
The Sports Xchange
Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have been struggling in the season's early-going. Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI
Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have been struggling in the season's early-going. Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI | License Photo

There is no way that Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn can put a positive spin on the six sacks allowed in Sunday's loss to Pittsburgh. It was problematic, with quarterback Matt Ryan often fighting for his well-being as Steelers poured in around him.

Quinn and his staff looked at the tape and looked at the breakdowns. On Monday he wasn't looking for scapegoats, he was searching for answers.

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"I went through all of them," Quinn said. "I went through a number of them with the team (Monday) and hitting on the truth. If there was just one thing, we would certainly say, OK, or during the game, this one topic or this one player."

But the mistakes were spread across numerous players and positions, so Quinn was unable to paint with a broad brush.

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"There were some technique errors at offensive line, at running back, when it went through it," Quinn said. "So each one specifically had an issue that we had to deal with and get corrected."

Quinn said the sacks came on a variety of situations and with a number of different play calls. That's why it's so difficult to identify a problem.

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"I wish there was one thing I could label it on," Quinn said. "It wasn't all drop-backs. It wasn't all third downs. Certainly some on blitzes, some that weren't blitzes that were a four-man rush. So I would say it's a combination of things."

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Ryan had been sacked three times in each of the two previous games. The Steelers got him six time for minus-43 yards. He's been sacked 16 times in five games after going sacked 24 times all of last season.

Ryan said, "Everybody knows our production needs to be better than it's been. The hardest part for players is having to watch that film and critically evaluate yourself. I think with the kind of guys that we have, there's not going to be a whole lot that needs to be said."

The offensive line has sustained only one injury this season, with 2017 starter Wes Schweitzer jumping in when Andy Levitre tore his triceps and was placed on injured reserve. The backfield should have gotten a boost last week by the return of tailback Devonta Freeman from a knee contusion.

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"There are times in our game where a guy plays good technique and you did as well, and you beat him or sometimes he beats you," Quinn said. "I understand that. It's the ones that we can control, like if we didn't use good technique or we had assignment error."

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--QB Matt Ryan got hit on the penultimate series that resulted in a fumble and did not return for the final series. He received an x-ray at the stadium and Dan Quinn said, "he is 100 percent good to go."

--DL Grady Jarrett (ankle, knee) missed the Steelers game, but could return this week. His status won't be known until later in the week.

--DL Derrick Shelby (groin) missed his second game, but could return this week. His status won't be known until later in the week.

--CB Justin Bethel (knee) did not play against Pittsburgh, but is close to returning. His status won't be known until later in the week.

--LB Foyesade Oluokun lost his cool and was flagged for a blatant personal foul. Coach Dan Quinn said, "Not sure where that came from. The penalties that are pre-snap -- or in that case post-snap -- are inexcusable."

--TE Austin Hooper caught a career-high nine receptions for 77 yards, the third-most of his career. Hooper's importance in the passing game continues to grow; he has 21 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown.

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