When Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan suits up and trots onto the field to face the San Francisco 49ers, memories will rise of not only the beating the Falcons took in the second half of the 2012 NFC Championship game, but the gruesome hits that Mattie Ice took as well. Although Ryan will square off against one of the most physical defensive units in the NFL, it has become a norm in terms of hits that Ryan has taken this year, as he has become “Human Piñata” behind one of the worst offensive line in the league.
In a year where everything has gone wrong for the Falcons, coach Mike Smith and his coaching staff are still going with Ryan as their starting quarterback, even though there is no point of risking an injury. Just less than a year ago, Ryan suffered a sprained AC shoulder joint against the team they will be facing this Sunday at Candlestick Park.
So far this year, the Falcons have used seven different combinations on their offensive line, desperately trying to figure out if anyone on their team still remembers how to block the opposing defenders from making their quarterback take a beating all day long. With failure after failure of experimenting different combinations of players, Ryan has been a direct recipient of being punished all year long.
This season alone, the Falcons’ offensive line has allowed Ryan to be sacked 34 times and hit 81 times, which comes out to a total of 115 hits. The Falcons ranked 11th on the list of teams that has allowed the most quarterback hits, including sacks.
After allowing several key linemen to walk away through free agency, the Falcons have become vulnerable up front and unfortunately, Ryan has been running for his life quite often in almost every single game.
Lucky for Ryan, he has not been seriously injured, but Ryan’s body may not last much longer if he continues to take a pounding. With the 49ers’ defense anxious to wreak havoc, Ryan will have to be athletic enough to avoid the pass rush, or he will indeed become a human piñata at the end of the day.