Tale of theTape: Falcons OL and the Sacks

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The Falcons Offensive line gave up four sacks in first half and another one in the only drive of first team in third quarter. Matt Ryan took a good beating, with the Offensive line showing up with more holes than Swiss cheese. Lets jump in to the breakdown of each sack to diagnose, what went wrong on these plays.

First Quarter (9:51), 3rd and 3 from TEN 9:

This play forced Falcons to kick a FG, instead of extending the drive and scoring a TD.

First Sack of the game on 3rd and 3.

  • Tennessee rushed six on this play, five rushers on CB Blitz right after the snap and the other rusher on a delayed LB blitz.
  • Jaqcquizz Rodgers never picked the CB who blitzed from the left.
  • Matt Ryan and Konz have the responsibility to identify the rushers and adjust the protection accordingly. Todd McClure used to make lot of these pass protection calls at the line. Konz and Ryan would need to communicate better to adjust the protections before the snap.
  • Titans did a good job of bringing in the pressure off the edges, more so on the right side of the OL. Lamar Holmes needs to do a better job, as Ryan was forced to step up in the pocket with edge collapsing.
  • In addition to pressure off the edge, Ryan was under pressure from the blitzing CB. Blalock barely picked up the CB, but did manage to push him out to not give up a sack.
  • Konz couldn’t stay on the feet and hold on to the defender, right at the time Ryan took off. With no place to go Ryan had to run in to the DT Klug and LB Fokou.

The blocking on the right side and missed blitz pick up forced Ryan to step up in the pocket and run right in to the DT and LB.

Second Quarter (9:28) 3rd and 7 from ATL 30:

This sack on third down, killed the drive, which was the first of many stalled drives by the Falcons first team for rest of the game.

Second of many more Sacks to come.

  • The main breakdown in protection on this play was because of a stunt by Jurrell Casey, which beat Blalock.
  • Steven Jackson had to slide all the way to right side, to help Lamar Holmes in protection. With out Steven Jackson’s help, it probably would have been a sack from the right side of the line.
  • Kamerion Wimbley also shed the block by Sam Baker, towards end of the play to assist in the sack.
  • Justin Blalock could have been better on this play, but the Offensive line needs to be in sync to pick up stunts. Falcons have three new players on the OL, and it sure needs more time to gel as one unit.

Second Quarter (1:57) 2nd and 10 from TEN 46:

Derrick Morgan flat-out schooled Lamar Holmes on this play for the sack.

Lamar Holmes got schooled.

  • The credit for this play should go to Titans Defensive coordinator, who blitzed a CB from the left side of the OL, taking Steven Jackson out of the picture from helping Holmes.
  • Lamar Holmes unlike the earlier sack, didn’t have any help from Steven Jackson to block the defender from going after Ryan.
  • Titans rushed six on this play and probably could have sacked Ryan or forced to throw away with pressure from the stunt. Dawson Keyunta(75) and Jurrell Casey never hit Ryan on the play, however both had Falcons OL beat with stunt.
  • Dawson Keyunta stunts all the way from left to right side of the OL and Blalock or Konz can’t pick him up as Blalock is occupied by the blitzing LB. Garrett Reynolds is blocking Jurrell Casey (99) with help from Konz, However as Keyunta(75) crosses him, he leaves Jurrell Casey and pushes Keyunta(75). Both Konz nor Blalock were in a position to pick up Jurrell Casey after let go by Reynolds, this most probably points to communication issues or lack of rhythm between the offensive lineman.

This sack was solely on Lamar Holmes, however the rest of the OL needs to be in sync to handle the stunts.

Second Quarter (0:23) 1st and 10 from ATL 20:

This was the last play of the second quarter, dashing any chances of a quick points after the sack. Falcons didn’t run a play after the sack in the first half.

Blalock needs to lock the Defender.

  • Titans rushed 5 on the CB blitz, Jacquizz Rodgers picked up the blitzing CB, but that took him out of helping OL in blocking.
  • Tennessee had good pressure on both the edges, making Ryan step up in the pocket.
  • Mike Martin rushed right through Konz and Blalock on this play for easy pickings on Ryan. Blalock and Konz should win the match up, especially with a double team on the DT.

Again, the Titants Defensive co-ordinator did a good job of taking out the RB from helping OL in pass protection. Blalock needs to step up his game after struggling through first three preseason games.

Third Quarter (9:50) 3rd and 4 from ATL 27:

The Titans continued to torment the Falcons OL with the stunts, resulting in the fifth sack of the day.

Final Sack, feeling the brunt of stunt.

  • This was a very good play called by the Titans, creating the gap between RG and RT to isolate Lamar Holmes in the space.
  • Jurrell Casey went right through Holmes, who couldn’t close the gap created by Reynolds moving to block DE.
  • This play could have been successful if Holmes could quickly close the gap, however the communication between the OL on stunts is something which needs to be fixed.

Three of these sacks came on third downs, all three of them on manageable third down distance. The Falcons Offense was not prepared to handle the stunts and the play calling has a lot to do with it. The Falcons are better off using quick 3 step drops on third downs to convert, than going in for five step or seven step drops. Right now, the communication and playing together as one unit is probably the biggest concern for the OL. Lamar Holmes had a rough day, so did Blalock who also struggled against Bengals in the first game. These sacks raise a lot of questions, however most of those sacks came on stunts. RT and LG seems to be the biggest problem right now. The OL is probably missing  the experience of Todd McClure in identifying the right protections. But in contrast to the preseason games in 2011, when the OL was not able to handle simple four man rush and one-on-one match-ups, the OL this year doesn’t appear as bad.