In a year where the Atlanta Falcons’ season was basically over at the midpoint of the season, coach Mike Smith has gone the route of developing his younger players. With two games remaining in one of the more embarrassing seasons a team could endure after going 13-3 just last year, Smith should sit his star quarterback Matt Ryan and end his year to help preserve his health going into the 2014 season.
It has been quite puzzling as to why Smith would allow Ryan to suit up and play in meaningless games, as the Falcons are clearly not headed for the playoffs. In fact, every win is devastating to the team’s future, as they are currently battling for a high pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft.
While Smith and his coaching staff are clearly in the developing mode of younger players in preparations for next season, Ryan should not be playing, and more importantly, he should not be playing and getting thrown around like a rag doll. No matter what the Falcons do in the offseason or through the draft, Ryan is their most important player and the leader of this team. Any injury to him could be costly, and his chances of getting a serious injury is high behind a very suspicious offensive line that has given up countless hits and a total of 34 sacks.
Against the Washington Redskins, Ryan was sacked three times and hit on other occasions rather harshly. If Smith and the Falcons had common sense, they would have had shut down their $100 million quarterback and allowed him to rest and heal after getting banged around for pretty much the entire season. The fact that Ryan is out on the field playing behind a line that probably couldn’t block Albert Haynesworth if their life depended on it is ludicrous. Smith needs to protect his most important chess piece, but instead, he is throwing him into the lion’s den.
With two games remaining against two of the stingiest and toughest defenses in the San Francisco 49ers and Carolina Panthers, Ryan should not be playing and should not be on the field starting this weekend. The Falcons’ track record of injuries to key players this year has been devastating, and they should be extra careful with their best player in Ryan.
The Falcons can survive without their Julio Jones or even other star players, but if they lost Ryan to a freak injury in these next two games, the consequences will be great, and the Falcons will not go anywhere without their quarterback. Tread carefully, Falcons, and be wise by not playing Ryan for the rest of this year.