Fal­cons con­sider OL changes to find pro­tec­tion for QB Ryan

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - By Charles Odum AP Sports Writer

AT­LANTA — Changes are be­ing con­sid­ered on At­lanta’s of­fen­sive line af­ter Matt Ryan was sacked six times in the lat­est of the Fal­cons’ three straight losses.

Coach Dan Quinn said Fri­day backup line­men Zane Bea­dles and Ty Sam­brailo could have big­ger roles as the Fal­cons try to find bet­ter pro­tec­tion for Ryan and im­proved run block­ing.

The Fal­cons (4-7) ran for only 26 yards on 16 car­ries in their 31-17 loss at the New Or­leans Saints on Thurs­day night. At­lanta was elim­i­nated from the NFC South race and would need a dra­matic turn­around to re­vive its fad­ing wild-card hopes.

Ryan and wide re­ceivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ri­d­ley lost fum­bles in the red zone. Quinn said those turnovers and the play on the line of scrim­mage were the “the two big­gest fac­tors in the game and that part of our game needs a lot of at­ten­tion and fo­cus.”

“Ob­vi­ously when you have a run game per­for­mance like we did, there’s a lot to look at and a lot that needs our at­ten­tion be­cause that was con­sid­er­ably be­low the line,” Quinn said. “That was also the big thing in pass pro­tec­tion.

“To have the six sacks and have the run game that we did, that’s not go­ing to get the job done.”

The Fal­cons have lost start­ing guards Bran­don Fusco and Andy Le­vitre to sea­son-end­ing in­juries. Quinn said re­place­ment starters Wes Sch­weitzer and Ben Gar­land don’t de­serve all the blame for the strug­gles against the Saints.

“It was a lit­tle bit spread around,” Quinn said. “If it had just been one area we’d have tried to ad­dress it as quick as we could.”

Bea­dles was signed on Oct. 30 and has worked at tackle and guard in prac­tice the last two weeks. Sam­brailo has been the team’s swing tackle.

Quinn said he and of­fen­sive line coach Chris Mor­gan have dis­cussed op­tions on the line.

“We’ll re­visit it again on Mon­day,” Quinn said. “I’m cer­tainly not pleased with the re­sults of where we were yes­ter­day, but I haven’t made a fi­nal de­ci­sion of who or what or if there are go­ing to be changes. It’s def­i­nitely some­thing we’re look­ing at to try and make sure we’re play­ing at our best.”

Ryan also threw an in­ter­cep­tion.

“I thought we did some good things of­fen­sively, but when you turn the foot­ball over four times against a re­ally good foot­ball team that’s play­ing with a lot of mo­men­tum, that’s too much to over­come,” Ryan said af­ter the game. “We need to be bet­ter than that as we move for­ward. We’ve got an ex­tended week­end here to get some rest, but also to take a look in the mir­ror and find ways that we can all be bet­ter and that’s what we need to do.”

The team’s dire play­off out­look won’t af­fect plans to have line­backer Deion Jones play when he is avail­able.

Jones came off in­jured re­serve last week af­ter miss­ing two months with a bro­ken right foot. He was in­ac­tive against Dal­las last Sun­day and again was held out against the Saints in what Quinn de­scribed as a close call.

The Fal­cons will try again to have Jones ac­tive on Dec. 2 against Bal­ti­more.

“I’m hope­ful that we’ll have him in the lineup,” Quinn said. “I know he was very close. The fact I think he is that close, that he’s ready to help us win, I think he’ll be out there.”

Free­man also still has a chance to re­turn for the fi­nal two reg­u­lar-sea­son games.

The Fal­cons also have lost both start­ing safeties for the sea­son.

/ AP-Butch Dill

Saints de­fen­sive tackle Shel­don Rank­ins (98) tries to sack Fal­cons quar­ter­back Matt Ryan (2) in last Thurs­day’s.

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