Can Matt Ryan Take the Next Step?

Or Was 2009 a Troublesome Sign?

Which is more accurate for Matt Ryan: 2008 Offensive Rookie of the Year or backslide against tougher competition? The Falcons QB is certainly one of the faces of the franchise, and a darn good one, but many expected that Ryan would take a step back in his second year and see a “sophomore slump” after NFL defensive coordinators had a year of tape on the QB and found out his weaknesses and tendencies. While Ryan didn’t have an outright terrible year, the former Boston College signal caller did have his share of struggles, where he threw 12 of his total 14 interceptions in a 6 game span. Predictably, the Falcons went 3-3 in that span. He then injured his foot and was out for several games, going 1-2 and almost going 0-3 and losing to a winless Tampa Bay team at the time. Many assumed that the Falcons would once again fall short in their quest for back-to-back winning seasons. To his major credit, Ryan came back strong from the injury to lead his team to a 3-0 record including a trip to frigid New York against a Jets team that went all the way to the AFC Championship Game. Ryan finished with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions and even garnered a QB rating over 80 percent which was unimaginable early on in the year.

All Ryan’s Fault or Others to Blame?

It’s a certainty that Matt Ryan deserves the lion’s share of the blame for his sub-par sophomore season with his poor decision making and errant throws. But do some of the other players, coaches, and positions deserve) some of the fault? Even though comparatively the Falcons QB wasn’t sacked much at all (19 compared to Ben Roethlisberger’s 50), Ryan had the most throwaways of any QB in the NFL with 30 and the next most was Jason Campbell with 22. Some of these were his fault in not trying to prolong the play, but other factors may have played a part as well.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, the offensive line had a pretty poor year in terms of individual pass blocking, but they ranked 9th overall in terms of the entire NFL. They had an ranked 6th in the NFL by FootballOutsider.com. Although a popular one, that may not be the best excuse to use. The fact that the running game, the supposed bread and butter of the offense, was pretty anemic probably did play a part. Some of the blame may rest with Mike Mularkey and his weak play-calling. How many play-action, one-option rollouts did the Birds run last year? The play-calls were predictable and stale and defenses adjusted appropriately. Besides Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, the receivers were pretty atrocious as well. Jenkins? Booker? Weems? Still, great quarterbacks have to deal with adversity and not always having the best talent around and Ryan surely failed in that regard.

Matty Ice by the Numbers

Ranked 13th in the Entire NFL according to FootballOutsiders.com, which measures a QB’s effectiveness.

Snaps – 904

Overall Comprehensive Ranking – 16th (+21.5 Rating)

Pass Ranking – 17th (+20 Rating)

Penalties – Tied for 1st in least amount of penalties

Completion Percentage – 25th (58.3%)

Throwaways – 40th (the highest amount in NFL with 30)

Hit as Threw – 17th (6)

Batted Passes – Tied for 6th Least, with 4

Pass Yards – 21st (2915 yards)

Yards Per Attempt – 23rd (6.5 yards)

Pass TDs – Tied for 14th (22)

Interceptions – Tied for 27th (14)

Sacks – Tied for 27th (19 sacks)

Dropped Passes – 31st (Most to Least – 16)

QB Rating – 21st (80.9)

Great Games – San Francisco, Carolina(1st), New York Giants

Awful Games – Carolina (2nd, New Orleans (1st), Dallas

***Special Thanks to ProFootballFocus.com and FootballOutsiders.com for their excellent stat work*** Click on each for full statistics

Cause for Major Concern

Was Matt Ryan’s Offensive Rookie of the Year due to his own excellent play or the product of low expectations, a superb run game, and very weak schedule? Many of Ryan’s detractors will quickly point to his high interception total as a college quarterback, a rookie, and in his second year. The Falcons QB can make some great throws and excellent decisions, but can just as easily follow it up with a drive and momentum killing interception (just before halftime against unbeaten Saints at home, anyone?).

While some of the issues may not be all his fault, he shares the vast, vast majority of the blame. Another knock on Ryan is his inability to deliver against tough defenses in big games. Some of his worst games and most boneheaded decisions came against New Orleans in the Superdome, the Cowboys in Dallas, and Panthers in Charlotte. Ryan will also need to put to rest the whispers that he doesn’t have the adequate arm strength to be a big time QB and stop being over-reliant on Tony Gonzalez as a safety net. Granted, he did come back from an injury to lead the Falcons to back-to-back winning seasons, but to be considered elite he must cut down on the large amount interceptions and poor decisions.

Small Step Back, Large Leap Forward

Yes Matt Ryan didn’t have a fantastic year in his sophomore campaign, but the quarterback overcame a lot of adversity to help the Falcons break the ridiculous curse of never having back-to-back winning seasons in their franchise history, something no other Falcons QB can claim. Ryan certainly had his issues, and he’ll be the first to say so, but his work ethic is unmatched and he is bound and determined to become an elite, franchise quarterback. Concerning the interceptions, Ryan’s second year is equal to or less than many of the all-time great quarterback’s 2nd year INTs (Elway – 15, Montana – 12, Manning – 15, Brady – 14, Brees – 15, Favre – 24). Also consider the following as facts rather than excuses: the running game was anemic in a run first offense, Coach Mularkey was pitiful in his play-calling, no wide receivers stepped up besides White and Gonzalez, and the offensive line had its own issues, especially at left tackle. Much of the blame lays at Mike Mularkey’s feet with his predictable, vanilla, and weak play-calling. Mularkey would often run on first and second down and then predictably pass on third and long.

Many players could have easily finished out the season on the bench after an injury with the playoffs gone, but Ryan felt obligated to come back for his team. Several times the hope looked lost in the three game stretch needed to break the curse, but Ryan found ways to help his team win at the end of the game in New York and Tampa Bay. Granted, Ryan needs to step up his game, make better decisions, and take the next step to become elite, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t do that with his unmatched work ethic and leadership.

The Experts Weight In (You)

-Will Matt Ryan take the next step in his career?

-Was last year a major cause for concern?

-Are you troubled by Ryan’s poor decision-making?

-Is #2 only successful when an RB has a great year?

-How much fault lies with Coach Mularkey’s play-calling?

-Any of these to blame: OL, RB, or WR’s for Ryan’s lower year?

-Predict the yards, TDs, and INTs that Ryan will have next season?

 

 

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Happy 4th of July Weekend Cagers!

161 comments Add your comment

ATLJBO

July 2nd, 2010
6:43 pm

If Matt Ryan didnt get hurt.. He would have had around 27-30 TD’s and around the same amount of passing yards (2008) …

I dnt think 2009 season was a down year… The dude got injured.

I feel like it was more play calling and not letting Matt Ryan take shots down field then it was Matt Ryans fault.

I feel like Matt Ryan do need to cut back on the ints some… But like 3 – 5 are tip ints from Jenkins (dont get me started) .

I think Matt Ryan can be a Philip Rivers type QB…. Murlarkey just have to let him (which i think he will) .

But yea… I’m not worried about Matt Ryan at all… He s probably my last concern.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ProFootballFocus.com and Dawson Devitt. Dawson Devitt said: http://bit.ly/9cR31v – Will Matt Ryan Take the Next Step? The Bird Cage/AJC New Post. Come join the discussion on the #AtlantaFalcons QB. [...]

Troy Heinzman

July 2nd, 2010
6:50 pm

Matt Ryan had the best rookie season for a quarterback ever. I’ll stand by that statement. Better than Peyton Manning, Dan Marino or Jim Kelly. His rookie campaign was as good as there could be so obviously it wasn’t a surprise to take a step backward in year two. I do think he’ll bounce back and have his best year in 2010. He’s great and the rest of the league is about to find out just how great he is. Good stuff, D3. You always keep us thinking through the slow times of summer.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dawson Devitt. Dawson Devitt said: RT @AJCFalcons: AJC's fan blog: Will Matt Ryan Take the Next Step? http://bit.ly/aUmGkl [...]

hiramsaint

July 2nd, 2010
8:07 pm

two week pantom turf toe is not an injury

CBrass

July 2nd, 2010
8:13 pm

hiramsaint

July 2nd, 2010
8:32 pm

and you would have them where?

D3

July 2nd, 2010
8:46 pm

Troy — Thanks man. Really enjoyed listening to you guys on the Falcoholic Podcast. Excellent Work!

The Falcoholic Podcast — If you guys haven’t done so yet, head on over to The Falcoholic and listen to their first podcast. It has Adam Schultz and Jason Kirk from The Falcoholic, Troy Heinzman from Blogging Dirty, and former Falcons Media Man J. Michael Moore. Excellent listen.

CBrass — Hope you’re doing well and have a great 4th. Bad news about Damon Evans.

Bangkapi Ajarn

July 2nd, 2010
8:47 pm

Great link, CB – thanks!

CBrass

July 2nd, 2010
8:59 pm

D3,

Great blog as always. Matt will be fine. I have no doubt about that. I was once told there God didn’t make stupid people. Damon contradicts that statement. Stupidity is the only way to explain that.

CBrass

July 2nd, 2010
9:01 pm

D3,

As always great write up. Matt will be fine. I have no doubt about that. As for Damon. I was told that God didn’t make stupid people. Damon Evans actions contradicts that statement. Stupidity is the only thing that can be said.

CBrass

July 2nd, 2010
9:02 pm

Sorry for the doubt post. Didn’t think that the first one went through.

BA,

How’s the house/apartment hunting going?

Bangkapi Ajarn

July 2nd, 2010
9:06 pm

Taking on the D3 quiz–

Will Matt Ryan take the next step in his career?
Perhaps, but this is a team sport. His success depends on an OL that can give him the time to go thru his progressions without fear of a career ending injury, the same OL that can plow ahead sufficiently to create a legitimate run oriented offense, receivers that don’t drop the ball in crucial situations, and less predictable play calling. Having HD to stretch the field on occasion is also important, as well as a relatively injury free season. He was the wunderkind his rookie year because of his supporting cast, and if he is anointed the next great thing this year it will be in large part because of his supporting cast as well.

-Was last year a major cause for concern?
Only from a standpoint of injury, and becoming gun shy. Strength of character can overcome those Pavlovian reactions, and I believe he has that.

-Are you troubled by Ryan’s poor decision-making?
He was working within the system, and following his options as spelled out by the OC, I believe. He tried to avoid making mistakes as a higher priority over making spectacular completions ( a reasonable approach considering other problems at the time, especially a porous pass D). I am not troubled by Ryan’s decision making. Rose colored glasses? Perhaps, but isn’t that the prerogative of a fan before the start of the season, for all 32 teams??

-Is #2 only successful when an RB has a great year?
In this offensive system, with this O-Line, perhaps. We NEED the opposing D to respect the run option, even at 2nd or 3rd and 5 or 6. As do most teams.

-How much fault lies with Coach Mularkey’s play-calling?
A fair amount, but to be fair he was trying to avoid turnovers because of a porous pass D to give the team a chance to win. Losing HD and having a weak receiver cops (outside the first two options) had to impact his play calling as well.

-Any of these to blame: OL, RB, or WR’s for Ryan’s lower year?
Yes, Yes, and Yes. It is a team sport

Pass on predicting yards, etc.

dbird1

July 2nd, 2010
9:18 pm

hiramsaint,

so who’s paying off the refs for the Saints this year?

Bangkapi Ajarn

July 2nd, 2010
9:33 pm

CB;

Found one in Lawrenceville and put in the app, passed all the checks while I was still down there (credit chk, criminal chk, revenue chk, precious landlord chk, etc.), and even got a copy of their checklist saying all checked passed, but they came up with some new inhoue forms that must go to the three banks that I have a balance of over $5000, and the bank (Bank of America in particular) says they can not do the form, violates federal regs.
So, the APT says they can’t process the app until they get their form filled out by the bank, and the bank says they are not allowed to complete the form. I even showed the APT three months of bank statements to prove, but they can only proceed if the bank completes the APT’s inhouse form. The Customer service rep at the bank thought the APT was trying to make us go away once they saw us, hope not.

I am a bit lost as to my next step now, I can’t keep going down there going thru this process. Discouraged.

CBrass

July 2nd, 2010
10:14 pm

BA,

All of that sounds ridiculous. Hang in there. It’s going to work out.

CBrass

July 2nd, 2010
10:17 pm

Wow, BA, that’s just crazy! Hang in there. It’s going to work out.

falcon4ever

July 2nd, 2010
11:11 pm

Bangkapi Ajarn

July 2nd, 2010
11:25 pm

CB, Thanks! I just hate to flush the whole process and begin anew. That is a LOOOONG trip, and a bit expensive to do all this. I do want to get back down there, however, some business opportunities possibly if I am in the area.
Moving is a PAIN!!!!!

falcon4ever

July 2nd, 2010
11:26 pm

dbird – it really doesn’t matter cause the saints are sure to sweep us again this year

DirtyBirdGonnaPoopOnYOU

July 3rd, 2010
1:40 am

There’s nothing wrong with Matt Ryan. He needs to be let loose a little but that will come with time. He’s entering his third season. Surely we didn’t think he was going to be the next big time QB in only his second season as an NFL starter. He will grow into the position and he’s still learning and progressing. The one thing you can’t coach is the way this guy prepares and the way this guy studies the game. He’ll do big things this season. He does need to limit the Int’s however. If your going to throw double digit Int’s, then you need to toss about 30-35 TDs IMO to offset that.

As far as needing a running game, well I think every QB in the league needs a running game, a decent one at least. You never want to become a one-dimensional team especially if all you do is pass. That let’s the opposing defense pin their ears back and come after your QB. But if you are balanced and have a good running game they can’t do that because they may get out of position to make a play. So I would say every QB needs a good running game.

Am I concerned? No, not at all. Matt Ryan may have taken a step back statistically, but I think he grew more as a player and as the QB of this franchise. He now knows what it’s like to experience an injury and what it means to be in a brutal dogfight in the NFL and he knows how to fight back. I think he’ll be alright and he’ll do wonders for our team in 2010.

Ed

July 3rd, 2010
2:01 am

D3 your breakdown covered all the bases. In particular this statement sums it all up in a nutshell as far as lack of support for Ryan:
Coach Mularkey was pitiful in his play-calling, no wide receivers stepped up besides White and Gonzalez, and the offensive line had its own issues, especially at left tackle. Much of the blame lays at Mike Mularkey’s feet with his predictable, vanilla, and weak play-calling. Mularkey would often run on first and second down and then predictably pass on third and long.

Great work as always and keep’em coming.

JJ

July 3rd, 2010
7:07 am

BA,
When I sold my house a few yrs ago, I searched for the biggest floor plan in the Dunwoody/Alpharetta area, highly recommend these apts.

https://property.onesite.realpage.com/templates/template_concept04/default.asp?w=wilkinsonsevenpines&t=template_concept04

Huge floor plans(2B-norfolk), low crime and centrally located to avoid 75/85/400 parking lots, plus indoor/outdoor pool and racquetball courts! You can negotiate lower than the price shown, sub 1 stack.

JJ

July 3rd, 2010
7:11 am

JJ

July 3rd, 2010
8:48 am

D3, great job as always buddy. MR will bounce back to a top 10 qb. Lack of WRs, play calling (pitifull) and OL protection were huge. Double White/TG, we became one dimensional. MR threw soo many balls away when no one was near him. That should change this yr. w/ HD back and some of our new WR’s. Playcalling has got to improve or mularky is out! Never thought MR would be a top 5, but a top 10 with a bruising defense, run game and special teams will have SW dancing down the streets of p’tree. As Sarah stated earlier, with this schedule, this should be our yr.!

When do the league offices (FFL-Birdcage) open? Would like to start some rough drafts before the lightning fast real draft, lol. j/k

falcon21

July 3rd, 2010
10:48 am

BA, your 9:06 comment was dead on the money, well said.

WR

July 3rd, 2010
11:06 am

D3, great post as is par at this point, even though I haven’t been able to post as often as usual as JJ just mentioned, let me know when the bird cage league offices open for the season, I’m still on board after the heart break of last season.

As for Ryan, he be fine, I believe even better then fine, he’ll move within a step or two behind the elite this year. I don’t even see last year as taking a step back as much as I see it as taking a step forward. Here’s why I say that even though his production slipped, 1st everyone knows a defense and specifically the defensive coordinators had a year of film on this guy, what he saw abate against better teams was expected, they saw weaknesses and they pounced as hopefully GSU will do in the future. But, and here’s the kicker for me and it might sound crazy to some, Ryan tried to win games last year as opposed to not losing games his first year, the Ryan of 09 began to show signs of a gunslinger, what some call poor decisions I look at as someone trying to grow. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE and life grows without making mistakes, you can get by, some people are actually satisfied with this type of life and thats good for them, but in order to grow and maximize your potential you have to make mistakes along the way, overcoming those mistakes is how you get better. With the game on the line your team is at the five you throw a pass to a double covered receiver thats intercepted, thats considered a dumb throw, if you complete the pass its considered a sign of greatness, not attempting the pass is a sign of mediocrity, just getting by, Ryan was attempting passes that all of us felt were dumb, stupid, not the right time, a joke, and so on, but what is missed is the fact that he was trying to make something out of nothing. The great ones, the elite ones, make something out of nothing, when it goes bad there the goat, but when it works out there considered unbelievable and yes elite, and only his second year with a decimated team Ryan attempted to establish himself as elite, that’s a good thing, meaning he works to be among the best if not the best, a decent QB can get by, sometimes a decent QB can even constantly lead there team to the playoffs and ultimately the SuperBowl, but a good QB has the confidence and belief that he can get it done and teams rally behind that. Think that Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Farve, and many others haven’t caused a headache or two, of course they have, but when its all said and done they take the glory when the team excels and the torment when it fails, Ryan has the same type of mentality, in a year that some call a stepback, I saw a QB that will allow Peachtree street to be crowded with people for more then a freaknik or July 4th marathon.

Bangkapi Ajarn

July 3rd, 2010
12:33 pm

JJ-
THANKS!! I will definitely check it out, site already bookmarked. I haven’t been treated like this since I was in the Middle east dealing with Arabs on the street, so I am having a bit of a hard time working out an approach to these Apartment folks. maybe they are simply incompetent, maybe they are defrauding the Govt. (there is a realistic scenario that explains their actions if I was cynical) or they decided they don’t like the looks of me (or my wife – the bank customer service folks suggested as much). Thursday is fish or cut bait time for me, last date to cancel the truck without penalty. That is when I start working on plan, what is it, G, H, or even more???

Falcon21;
Thanks as well, I think QB’s are critical as they need to be able to exploit opportunities , BUT they don’t operate in a vacuum (as you excellently pointed out). I believe Ryan did quite well for a 2nd year hurt QB operating a damaged offense, protecting against turnovers into a flawed defense. 9-7 was excellent in those circumstances, and I truly think the Falcons have a SERIOUS run in them after a 11-5 or even 12-4 season in 2010. 13-3 would delight me (doable), and 10-6 would be a mild disappointment (also doable).

WR – Totally agree, it IS a team sport. QB is a critical cog, no question, but it only a cog, one of many. The system can fail at a number of positions, nit just QB, but that is where the spotlight is.

D3, Thanks! You are keeping us totally jazzed about the falcons during the offseason doldrums.

Time for some tech free time, a beautiful Midwest afternoon up here, no rain forecast until late in the week, highs in the 80’s. Ya’ll enjoy your 4th holiday!

Bangkapi Ajarn

July 3rd, 2010
1:04 pm

One more point that WR nailed – opposing Def. Coordinators picking apart film from Ryans rookie season.

I would add that perhaps Ryans throw-aways (30-excellent stat, D3) were a result of Atlanta LT and LG performance/tendencies/weaknesses in particular being dissected in film rooms around the NFL and exploited. They may have cracked some of our pass patterns as well, closing down routes, and Mularkey couldn’t (or didn’t have the personnel) to compensate. This year we will have Johnson, Hawley, a coached up Reynolds on the o-line as well as some great new talent in the (hopefully) healthier WR corps (can’t wait to see who makes the team!!!!!).

I really don’t believe personally that Ryan panicked, he followed the game plan and protected against int’s (his 14 compared quite well to great QB’s as D3 researched) thereby keeping the pass D off the field in short field situations as much as possible. It worked.

JerseyFalcon

July 3rd, 2010
3:23 pm

Ryan had a down year simply because he was injured but so so Turner and Dougless were injured. Take away their best running back and fastest WR…what do you have? Tony G did a good job but he can’t go down the field anymore and they doubled Roddy because you basically could put a saftey on “Droppsie” Jenkies on the other side…

falcon4ever

July 3rd, 2010
3:41 pm

two week phantom turf toe is not an injury!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Birdwatcher

July 3rd, 2010
5:33 pm

The guy gave it his best shot. What do you guys want–blood? As for Turf Toe, don’t call it “nothing” or “minor” until you have had it and tried to play at that level.

N

July 3rd, 2010
5:45 pm

BA — the knowledge in me compels me. Don’t definitively know what your family situation is, though I’ve seen a fair number of your posts over the past several months and seem to remember that you have a mixed family. Also, the former Ajarn in me wants to help (anonymously so as not to create any upposed / believed / expected attorney-client relationship). So, just to be clear, this is just friendly advice.

That form sounds absolutely ridiculous. What is it supposed to be testing? Your bank balance? No need for it given the credit check. Bank people don’t usually make up excuses to not fill out forms, and I would trust their nose on this issue. Check the Better Business Bureau report on this place. Regardless of whether you find support there, STRONGLY consider talking to a lawyer (to hire — sorry, I wish I had a recommendation for you). As I’m sure you’re well aware, discrimination in housing is illegal. If everything went fine until you showed up and they suddently produced a brand new form after seeing you — that is a serious red flag (even more so if you have a “generic” sounding name … if you catch my drift). Obviously you probably don’t want to live at a place that would do such a thing, but I think you shouldn’t be adverse to taking a lot of money from them and exposing them to horrible publicity. They deserve it. That’s why the law is written that way. At the least, you could try contacting the local HUD office (I think in Atlanta proper) by phone to talk to someone who can help you. But, if you hire a lawyer, consider doing it on contingency fee (if they “win” they get paid, if they lose, they don’t — they can keep a maximum of 1/3 of the total winnings, try to negotiate to 1/4, but depends on the place). Anyway, hurt those bums.

Go Falcons!

falcon21

July 3rd, 2010
7:40 pm

Being someone that has played the sport and had the injury, it is hard enough to walk with turf toe much less play on it.

samuel

July 3rd, 2010
8:17 pm

Well, a healthy Michael Turner will help Ryan. Also with Harry douglas in the mix, Murkylarky can be more creative with his play calling. If guys aren’t effective protecting Matt- they have other guys who can step up and fill a slot. Hence the rest is on Matty Ice. Can we say the Pittsburg Steelers defense as the first real test. He ’s going to have to play well against good defenses. And cut back on his mistakes, If and when this happens- I think the sky is the limit for Matt Ryan and the Falcon franchise.

SirReal

July 3rd, 2010
8:30 pm

Guys,
I’m gonna be totally honest with you. When we drafted Ryan, I winced a little. He came in and gave a very very good first year. I noticed he did a lot of things well and made some dumb decisions at times as well. I still wonder about his arm strength but not for reasons others think. I think the guy had an injury the birds kept tucked under the nest and it lingered last year. When he was getting the ball downfield his rookie year, no one complained of his arm strength. I think thatll get dispelled. To me this is the year we see what QB we have. The lightbulb is supposed to go on this year. Look at the greats. They all turned it up in that 3rd year. Hopefully ours will to. MY only thing about him is his mental toughness at times. (not all the time bc no one can be scared or weak and play QB in the NFL) When Ryan gets that big pop in the game, he looks a a giraffe in the headlights for the rest of the game! Also, no more “Im learning” excuses. You’re a vet now and being counted on to make it happen. No more holding his hand and skipping down candy lane from the coaches either. He comes into his own as a man this year and holds himself accountable. Lastly, I echo other posts about the TD/INT ratio. D3, this has got to change if he is to be considered in conversation with the greats….

ATLFALCON25BJ

July 3rd, 2010
8:40 pm

Matty ICE will be fine and better than ever this season we had alotta bad breaks this past season,early prediction 12-4 and if we stay with good health theres no way the saints sweep us

falcon21

July 3rd, 2010
9:10 pm

I don’t really understand the giraffe in the headlights statement. Our o-line was pizz poor in pass protection last season. Ryan was under fire all season and I think he did pretty well. Give the man an o-line worth a crap and if the results are the same then I may understand the statement.

falcon4ever

July 3rd, 2010
11:12 pm

1 more time –2 week phantom turf toe is not an injury

Bangkapi Ajarn

July 3rd, 2010
11:18 pm

Falcon21, agree totally.
Not that I have personal knowledge of Giraffes, or how they react when struck by headlights (that would be a chopper or perhaps a monster truck? Giraffes are pretty tall as I recollect), BUT—

Frozen in fear animals or QB’s, wouldn’t be able to zip thru available progressions and throw the ball out of bounds to avoid a sack or INT, or skeedattle out of the pocket when the pocket collapses prematurely. Granted, he didn’t stand tall in the pocket ignoring massive Defensive locomotives trying to break him into tiny pieces all that often, but a sack would be worse than an incomplete pass in my book.

Sportaree

July 3rd, 2010
11:38 pm

Don’t forget today is July 3rd, and maybe some need to get a headstart for the 4th.

Hope everyone has a good time, and please be safe.

Wabe

July 3rd, 2010
11:40 pm

Stats may show that he didn’t have too bad a season, and he really didn’t. But, he definately took a step back. Sophmore slump, over-hyped, call it what you wanna call it.

I’ll say this, the guy is determined to be great. You don’t often see a guy with Ryan’s determination fail. I know people might get tired of hearing “experts” praise this guy’s work ethic, but it shows how driven Ryan is.

Although the stats may not indicate a major dropoff, I think most were a bit disappointed with what they saw from series to series with Ryan. His case of *happy feet* really killed his confidence midway through the season. I think he caught that after we played Dallas. We had gone about 4 games straight without giving up a sack – we allowed a sack or two against the Dolphins in our opener (another 3-4 unit). The next team we played that played that 3-4 base (Dallas) roughed Ryan up again midway through the season, and his poise was just off from there on out.

There’s clearly a reason why the arrow on this team is pointed up. There’s a buzz about these Falcons, and a lot of that is because they have a talented young QB.

Singletary

July 4th, 2010
1:06 am

Excellent analysis. I don’t deviate in any way from what you said though I guess I’d ask the question about our opposing defense as a stop-gap. While I’m frightened that the unforeseeable could actually happen, I’m going to rest that there are those of us Falcons fans who can actually agree. Mark it down, guys. Falcons fan agreeing with what’s already been written. (NOT gonna happen again.)

[...] Read the original: Can Matt Ryan Take the Next Step? | Atlanta Falcons: Bird Cage [...]

chris

July 4th, 2010
5:55 am

This was touched on in the article…but the guy just throws a lot of picks. Always has, always will. He threw 19 as a supposed Heisman candidate!

Unca' Bob

July 4th, 2010
7:31 am

Happy Birthday and Forth to all.

I have no reason to doubt Matt Ryan. Not because of anything that has or has not been said on these posts. But, the statements made by the only relevent source, his teamates. To a man, they believe in him.

james c

July 4th, 2010
10:25 am

For the first time in years the Falcons are only upgrading. They have all the starters but they also have great challengers for positions. I can remember when we only had 3 to 5 real starting players that any team would want. Now we have the chance to be a truly great team with every player on the roster coveted by half the teams in the NFL.

Greg

July 4th, 2010
10:45 am

You writers always ignore the obvious: Ryan had only faced ONE 3-4 defnse in 2008, so it was easy to predict (and I did, as did others) that he woudl struggle, especially early (games against MIA, NE, and DAL all in the first half of the season, two on the road, all with top 3-4 schemes). Nothing more to it.

Ryan will be fine. In fact, I’ll go on the record as stating he’ll be top 8 in passer rating and top 12 in YPA this season. Not only will have have gained experience against 3-4 defense, but he’ll have Douglas back, Roddy without gimpy knee problems, and the Falcons will run more no-huddle. most importantly, though, the opponents this year are NOT as highly ranked defenses, particularly against the pass (for example, PIT and BAL have great reps, but weak secondaries). Big year for Ryan.

Greg

July 4th, 2010
10:48 am

And by “you writers” I am generalizing about ALL the “sophomore slump” articles, not specifically calling out D3. It’s a much, MUCH better article than your average hometown newspaper analysis.

N

July 4th, 2010
1:18 pm

BA — I guess the internets, or an AJC filter ate my post from yesterday (was long). Sorry to hear about the personal situation. Consider hiring a lawyer, or at the least, file a complaint with HUD. Definitely sounds fishy.

Ajarn power! Go Falcons!!!