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Film Study: Matt Ryan’s very bad no good terrible day

At least Matt Ryan got to be reunited with his good friend Cameron Jordan

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It’s one thing to be outplayed by a 30-year old gadget tight end making his NFL debut at quarterback. It’s another thing to be outplayed by him while also getting sacked eight times. While Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan isn’t a stranger to being sacked, especially against the Saints, continually hitting the turf while Taysom Hill frolicked to a pair of touchdowns on the other sideline had to sting. So, that leads to the pressing question. Why did Matt Ryan get sacked eight times? Really, it’s because of two simple words. Coverage Sack.

Instead of going through every single sack that the Saints collected on Sunday, this piece will just take a look at three sacks in particular. First off, we look at the first sack of the day, the first of three by Cameron Jordan, who extended his NFL record to 21 sacks on Matt Ryan.

This is a simple Cover 1 look. One deep safety, one safety in the box, everyone else manned up across the board (the safety in the box is likely matched up with the Falcons running back, who stays in to block). At the top of his dropback, Matt Ryan’s looking to his left to see Marshon Lattimore in fairly tight coverage on Calvin Ridley. Ryan then takes a look to his left, looking for one of Christian Blake or Russell Gage. Both are well-covered, and by the time Gage gets into a good position past C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Ryan’s staring right into the face of a charging Kwon Alexander. Alexander’s not the one able to reach him, as Cameron Jordan beats him to the QB.

For the next sack, we look at the Saints actually stopping a QB bootleg, a play that gave them a myriad of problems especially earlier in the year. For this, I’ll let CSC’s very own Ross Jackson take care of this in the tweet above.

Not all sacks are coverage sacks. Instead, sometimes sacks just happen because Trey Hendrickson is an absolute beast who mauls a left tackle directly into Matt Ryan who can do nothing but poorly attempt to escape the pocket. Ryan barely has a chance to hit his reads here, Hendrickson blows this play up. Hendrickson has stepped up massively this season, as he currently sits as the NFL’s sack leader through Week 12. The pass rush struggling at the beginning of the season was part of the reason that the pass defense was so bad, and the return of Marcus Davenport plus the emergence of Trey Hendrickson have given the Saints an impressive trio of pass rushers that have been a big reason for the pass defense’s improvement over the past few weeks.


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