Brady and Patriots show Ryan and Falcons how it’s done

Matt Ryan had decent numbers again but for the second straight game failed to engineer a touchdown drive.

Matt Ryan had decent numbers but for the second straight game failed to engineer a touchdown.

(UPDATED AT 11:30 p.m.)

During his four years at Boston College, Matt Ryan watched Tom Brady win a Super Bowl, go through a regular season undefeated, throw for 50 touchdown passes, win an NFL MVP award and be named AP athlete of the year — all of which, of course, took a backseat to marrying Gisele Bundchen.

As the Falcons’ quarterback said earlier in the week, “It is impossible not to see him when you live in Boston because of his star power.”

It was impossible not to notice that star power Thursday night. Ryan, who has the potential to rank among the league’s elite quarterbacks one day, went against Brady, who has been there for about nine years and three Super Bowls now.

It was only an exhibition. But Brady remains on a level that Ryan — and others not named Manning — strive to reach. Ryan played three series in an exhibition against New England with some efficiency: 8-for-13 for 76 yards. Brady played three series and was a little better: 10-for-12 for 85 yards.

Ryan led one field-goal drive.

Brady led two touchdown drives.

There’s the difference.

New England won 28-10. Now, it’s dangerous to over-evaluate preseason games. Sometimes it’s dangerous to give any weight to them. Coaches don’t scheme. Veterans don’t play hard. Sometimes they don’t play at all.

But it’s safe to say it’s at least of some concern that the Falcons’ first-team offense has had five possessions in two exhibition games and has produced only two field goals (with two misses) and zero touchdowns.

“We’ve moved the ball really well,” Ryan said. “We just haven’t been able to capitalize on many drives.”

When asked how much weight should be given to the Falcons’ first-team defense not getting into the end zone, Ryan said: “I don’t think a lot. When we come into these things, we don’t game plan a lot. We watch basically zero tape. It’s an extension of training camp. We’re working on some different things, trying to improve on route combinations and stuff, seeing what we like and don’t like, what we want to take to the regular season. That’s probably a little bit different from the past two years, and I know it’s different for me. That’s going to be beneficial for us throughout the year.”

Does Ryan have an itch to get into the end zone in the third exhibition at Miami next Friday?

“No doubt,” he said.

There is little question the Patriots are ready for the season. Their offensive line dominated up Falcons, leaving Brady and running back Fred Taylor (28-yard touchdown run) to have fun shredding every misdirected body behind the line. Even if the Patriots’ second touchdown was a bit of a gift — the result of a phantom roughing-the-kicker penalty by Chevis Jackson on a field-goal attempt that extended a New England drive — that seemed like an afterthought, given the way New England functioned.

Ryan said he probably watched Brady “a little more tonight” than he did in last year’s regular season meeting, when he was more preoccupied with the game.

“It also was great just to watch him this week in practice,” he said. “There’s no mystery as to why he has been as good as he’s been. He works really hard and he’s diligent at what he does.”

Ryan has decent numbers in two games: 11-for-19 for 110 yards. He also was victimized by a Tony Gonzalez drop near the Pats’ 15. But two field goals in five possessions is not comforting.

“We start fast, move the ball to the plus side of the 50 and then we stall out,” coach Mike Smith said.

This has the chance to be a special season for the Falcons. All other factors notwithstanding, how far the Falcons go this season hinges on Ryan.

Let’s be clear: He did not have a bad season last year. He just didn’t live up to probably unrealistic expectations following his phenomenal rookie season, when he led the Falcons to the playoffs with an 11-5 record. Key numbers dropped off: completion percentage (61.1 to 58.3) and passing yardage (3,440 to 2,916).

He threw for more touchdowns (22 to 16), but also had more interceptions (14 to 11). But in Ryan’s defense, the Falcons had a lot more injury problems than the season before (Ryan himself had turf toe), and a down season by running back Michael Turner hurt the offense.

Few doubt that Ryan will evolve into one of the league’s elite quarterbacks. Even Patriots coach Bill Belichick, whose team practiced in Flowery Branch this week, indicates he’s headed in that direction. As Belichick said, “We saw [New Orleans quarterback Drew] Brees last week, and we’ll see Ryan this week. That’s about as tough as it’s going to get. They are as good as anybody in this league.”

Ryan understands he’ll be the difference in the Falcons this season. Most quarterbacks are. The key? It’s not to play Brady’s style. It’s merely to play like Brady.

“The biggest thing that you may try to emulate is his consistency, not his throwing motion or footwork,” he said. “He has had a level of consistency that is evident year in and year out, week in and week out. That is the number one thing I would try to do that he does.”

When he gets there, so will the Falcons.

Last five posts on demand (and free)

Falcons LIVE blog: It doesn’t count but it’s still Ryan vs. Brady

Richt makes a splash on Sportscenter (fully clothed)

Glaus deserves credit for way he reacts to Braves’ trade

Poll time: If Braves get Lee, should they drop-kick Glaus?

Prado has three hits in comeback — and why not him for MVP?

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and

152 comments Add your comment

Saint Arthur???

August 19th, 2010
11:08 pm

How about seeing Wes Welker tonight, that is simply unreal how he’s back from a torn ACL in just 9 months.


August 19th, 2010
11:14 pm

It doesn’t help matters when your offensive coordinator is more Greg Knapp, less Charlie Weiss.

Seriously, don’t people realize that Pittsburgh didn’t win a Super Bowl until AFTER Mularky left and Whisenhunt took over?

The offense positively hums when RYAN and not Mularky calls the plays from the line in the hurry up.

Mularky calls plays like he has no feel for the flow of the game. We Georgia fans saw this for four years on the defensive side with Soft Willie Martinez at the helm.

How many inane single-option rollouts did he have Ryan run last year?

How many times in 3rd and long situations did he leave Ryan without a midrange option or even an outlet receiver out of the backfield in the flats?

If the Falcons want to truly succeed on offense, they need to give Ryan play calling autonomy at the line of scrimmage, like what Peyton Manning has in Indianapolis.

Mike Mularky = Soft Willie Martinez.


August 19th, 2010
11:15 pm

Welker is not just a great player, either–he’s got the best attitude of any player currently in the NFL. It’s rare to see a human with his kind of drive to excel–I certainly don’t and can only marvel at the little guy…..


August 19th, 2010
11:18 pm

Very nice piece Jeff. We def have some tweaks, but better to get this out the way now, than when we are in the hunt for the division title late in the season. Side note: It will be a baaadddd day in the film room next week, especially defense. Too many missed tackles. Tighten up Birds!

Big O

August 19th, 2010
11:20 pm

Ryan cannot carry the whole team! He did his part! So let’s stop over analyzing Matt Ryan. He’s fine. Look elsewhere.


August 19th, 2010
11:27 pm

Phantom call or not (and it was) the Falcons have to guard against that. There’s no point in trying for a block against a team the NFL front office wants to succeed, because the refs will be instructed to throw the flag every time.


August 19th, 2010
11:30 pm

You can’t blame Ryan for not throwing for a TD tonight. Gonzalez had an easy first down in the red and dropped the pass. But who cares it’s the preseason. The only thing that matters is that no one got hurt.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by R. Punteño Carranza, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Brady and Patriots show Ryan and Falcons how it’s done [...]


August 19th, 2010
11:33 pm

We’ve heard from the players that they want to step into the group of elite defenses in the NFL – not even close. They were out hustled and worst of all they were physically dominated. Long, long way from being anything other than a middle of the pack defense. This was sad to see. I was expecting so much more.


August 19th, 2010
11:36 pm

Here are my takes on this:

First of all, I only wanted to see the first team play on offense and defense. So that’s all I’m going to comment on.

Defensively, we were a little porous against the run. The pass defense is better. I’m concerned about our run defense, even though there were great defensive plays.

Biermann is already ready. Kim must make him very happy (or angry… whatever his motivation.) But dude’s ready. Also, it was great seeing Abraham making that big stop against the run.

Offensively- once again, heavy on TE usage. There were some RB passes mixed in, but not a lot of WR play. Plus, I think that the deep ball is no longer a part of our playbook. Matt Ryan looked OK today. Not spectacular. Not like he can make every throw. Not like a world beater. He looked OK. Once again. Average.

Michael Turner needs to run the football. It’s punishing. That dump pass? Not so much. As a matter of fact, he’s taking punishment, not giving it. Keep Turner banging and people will simply stop wanting to tackle him. I don’t like the scheme. (But I don’t like the scheme, period.)

But I think you’re seeing more dump passes, but in the regular season- Turner banging it and Matt Ryan passing to Gonzo. It works an average amount of time and I can see us having another winning season this year. (9-7)

Jeff Schultz

August 19th, 2010
11:48 pm

Folks, just updated the column with some fresh Ryan quotes.
FYI, spent some time in Mike Smith’s press conference and he was pretty upset with performance, from top to bottom. I’m sure D-Led will have it covered. I’d expect an angry coaching staff at practice this week, leading up to the Miami game next Friday.
Nice job on the live blog tonight.


August 19th, 2010
11:49 pm

I know that it was a preseason game. The Patriots looked much better skilled, tackling, blocking, etc. than the Falcons. Let’s hope that the Falcons do the skill work and begin the season sharp. Otherwise it will be a repeat of last year.


August 19th, 2010
11:51 pm

Smith oughta be upset–somebody got lots of ’splainin’ to do…


August 19th, 2010
11:52 pm

Uh-oh! This is how you perfofm on your home turf against a team NOBODY predicts to win more than 11 games this season (some say the Pats could win just 8). Very bad night! Hopefully this game was just a fluke!


August 20th, 2010
12:00 am

2 NFCSouth teams that led our division last season have already been spanked by the Pats–they’re for real. Anyone who thinks they’ll only win 8 games this season needs to put down the pipe. Just watched a very subdued and obviously pissed-off & embarassed Mike Smith press availability over on the Falcons’ website and he had some harsh words for tonight’s performance. “It’s unacceptable” he said. I think we can all agree on that….


August 20th, 2010
12:00 am

Good article Jeff. I hope Ryan becomes as consistent as Brady. Time will tell. It’s going to be a fun ride.


August 20th, 2010
12:03 am

I agree because it was pretty lackluster. When you are trying to overcome a lackluster season from last year, you want to see you offense clicking. It wasn’t. And here’s why:

In the passing game, there wasn’t enough patience in the pocket in order for the play to develop. There wasn’t a good continuation in the passing game. So what’s happening is that Ryan is going through his progressions extremely fast and is hitting his check-downs. But I haven’t see him hit his primaries as much as those check-downs. Therefore, there are all these quick passes to TEs and RBs.

As a result, the run defense can stay up and not have to be stretched at all.

So, in short, we’re back to where we started: RBs carrying the bulk,Gonzo being the outlet. That’s easy to scheme against.


August 20th, 2010
12:03 am

Week One: euphoria
Week Two.Reality check!
Week Three.We will still not see the team that will start week one.
Week Four.Just one more way the” N” “_uckmeover”" L” charges full price for pre-
season tix that extort,well you know.


August 20th, 2010
12:06 am

Ryan need pro bowl linemen like Brady, Turner need pro bowl linemen like Taylor, it starts up front. With the exception of Abraham and Bierrman we did not have in help on the line, although I will give Trey Lewis some credit, he was drawing double teams and he was providing a push in the middle.


August 20th, 2010
12:12 am

The reason Ryan throws to his tight end so much is because his arm strength is weak, thats a fact, if this is pre-season why not take plenty of shots down field? He has been here for two full seasons and we have yet to stretch the field. He is the most over paid player in Atlanta, even over joe johnson.

falcons fan 4 ever

August 20th, 2010
12:18 am

the hoody wanted to show out tonight so tom can get his money.they will win every game in preseason im sure. its all about the money. we will be ok as long as nobody gets hurt before the season starts.we got half our team on the bench 4godsakes.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Roy Harris, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Just updated #Falcons game column with some Matt Ryan quotes. Pretty sad effort overall by team. [...]


August 20th, 2010
12:22 am

Only problem is, Peters, and Meier had knee injuries and Owens hurt his hand. Hopefully, nothing serious….

SWAT Native

August 20th, 2010
12:28 am

On a side note, speaking of Kim and Bierman, Kim was at the game tonight. The guys in front of me took a picture with her, and they say she’s MUCH sexier in person.


August 20th, 2010
12:38 am

Jeff, the second touchdown for Brady happened only because of the most bogus roughing the kicker penalty ever. I don’t think I can take another year of football, with all of its bogus nonsense. We have to deal with bogus referees, bogus announcers, and even more bogus journalists. The problem is, the falcons have a good team this year, and its going to be hard not to pay attention.


August 20th, 2010
12:48 am

The point being why do you have to pay for preseason, just to see the home games, in person?


August 20th, 2010
12:53 am

I feel like the first teams did ok. The run defense stiffened after the first drive and without the bogus “roughing” call we would have been at 7 to 3. Bierman looked fantasitc and Abe had some nice plays. MR looked sharp and Gonzo’s drop (along with the non-interference call on White) made things lookj worse than they really were. I try not to put much emphasis on the results of preseason games personally. I’ve see teams go 0-4 in the preseason then go 12-4 in the regular season. The results mean nothing but the efforts of some of our starters were encouraging….

Whopper Dawg

August 20th, 2010
2:54 am

Just think about it -

If you reversed the performances, we would be hanging Super Bowl banners mentally. As it is, we got smacked by a much better football team. Dismiss it as preseason all you want, but a smack down is what it was.


August 20th, 2010
3:07 am

I thought Trey Lewis had a nice game. Bierman my wind up being a beast. Has anyone seen Thomas DeCoud?d


August 20th, 2010
3:44 am

Waynester I guess somebody on ESPN is on crack. With that I believe 11 wins at the most for the Pats. Most likely 10! The way the Falcons played, maybe 6!

Brother John

August 20th, 2010
4:37 am

Does anyone have a dictionary? Look up the word malarkey in it. Defined. “Something that doesn’t have or make any sense.” We have the most vanilla, easy to defend offense in the NFL. Bring in Weiss. He’s wasting his life in KC…

Football Bat

August 20th, 2010
5:37 am

Is that Dahl putting a blatant facemask on the pats’ 91 in photo above? Play by play the Falcons looked pretty poor.

Jeff, good job on banning that MV7 loving, trash talking troll from last year. Or did all that crack he was smoking finally do him in?


August 20th, 2010
5:53 am

Im gonna start calling him Matty Field Goal….Some guys are a little too plugged in at the QB spot and start to become robots instead of football players, maybe its all that time he is spending eating game film and honey nut x’s and o’s thats got him in constant dump down mode… All of the money were paying him i want to see some results and dont start with the back to back winning season nonsense, is that really the level of expectation around here? And stop with the he didnt have a bad season last year and the injury excuse! After cramming he is the next Brady or Manning down my throat for two years dont give me excuses give me results, such as a playoff win perhaps? Yes he has all the intangibles with the exception of a strong arm that you could want from a QB he certainly looks the part and had a great rookie season, but this is the big bad NFL where teams read tendencies and weakness right? So who’s to say that he wont be one of those guys who just puts up numbers that dont equate to meaningful post season wins ala Tony Romo or Carson Palmer??? So stop forcing me to believe that he is the next Brady or Manning and let him evolve into the best Matty “checkdown” he can be… Instead of calling it for what it actually is I am starting to hear the Mike Mularkey rumblings lol!!!

Word of advice Mike you better start getting the resume updated because the “COACH KILLER” isnt going to take the fall for this one you are. I hear that the unemployment rate is at 10% just get in line and enjoy the wait….


August 20th, 2010
6:27 am

I think it’s safe to say That beirman is going to win the starting job at defensive end. I’m still not Impressed with our ability to stretch the field. We simply can’t get into the end zone. Weems kickoff returns aren’t that good either. I don’t get the feeling that he’s ever going to break one. We didn’t do a good job at stopping the run. For some reason we have a knack for giving up the big play. Sometimes I wish Matt would forget that Gonzo is on the field, I think it would help him in the passing game. In this game, I felt he, Tony was too much of a safety valve. But being that said I like to give a take, based on all the starters being out there. Then we’ll really see- if this is a good team or not. Can anybody say the Pittsburg Steelers?


August 20th, 2010
6:30 am

1. 3rd & 4, out. 3rd & 4, out. Did I just repeat myself? Sound familiar? No one getting open? No one? Or maybe Ryan just wasn’t seeing the open guys. Either way….

2. I agree with the comment above about Turner catching the ball out of the backfield. If he has to stop and turn to face the QB to catch the ball, he’s gonna get murdered. He’s got to catch those balls, in stride, going forward. Again, whose fault was this? Ryan’s?

2. The Pats hit harder and were quicker to the ball on defense. On offense, one got the impression they could have moved the ball and scored all night long. There’s just a talent gap between the two teams. Probably a coaching-smarts gap too. Nothing we can do about that.

OK, NOW will you huckersters...

August 20th, 2010
6:38 am

…dispense with all the hoopla and giddiness of what MIGHT be – this team, the Falcons, are no where near playoff contenders – we all knew the defense would be suspect, and now the offense has joined them as a joke. Two field goals in two games by the first team “O” – what a freakin’ joke – good thing it is only pre-season or the whole city would be tearing out its hair – might as well get an early start on that, however…


August 20th, 2010
6:49 am

I have a hard time getting down on Ryan after this game. The defense was ridiculously bad and special teams too. Brady was good like he always is, but he had alot of help from our defense. Also, too many dropped balls especially the one from TG which is not the norm.

Bottom line…defense MUST be significantly better than last year or this season will be very similar to years past.


August 20th, 2010
7:01 am

Playoffs? Did someone say playoffs? Unless something improves it doesn’t look promising even if it is pre season.


August 20th, 2010
7:05 am

same ole falcons…i don’t see any difference from last years team. Who did we add in the offseason, Robinson? chevis jackson is horrible..he needs to be on the scout team


August 20th, 2010
7:27 am

From what I saw last night it appears that Willie Martinez is teaching the Falcons how to tackle. Who the heck is #28 on defense? That big va-je-je totally whiffed trying to tackle Grandpa Taylor on his TD run. Simply pathetic.

Tech Fan Since 1950

August 20th, 2010
7:41 am

I went to the first Falcons game in Atlanta 40+ years ago and have not seen them in person since 1973. I have watched them on TV and listened on radio over the years and, of course, read the AJC. Except for a couple of years the Falcons are the same team year after year. The uniforms periodically change and so do the players, but less than mediocrity does not change. You folks at the AJC should spend more time on the college beats, for this Atlanta professional stuff (Braves excluded) is just not a good product.


August 20th, 2010
7:43 am

Phew!!! I thought the rotten eggs were in Iowa? Somebody call the CDC, the self-proclaimed “13-3″ Falcons are in need of a mandatory recall!


August 20th, 2010
7:44 am

Turner did not look crisp. Back to the ol’ hesitation move, at the line of scrimmage and when catching a pass. Not good. Without a running game, this offense has no passing game.
Defense….well, there’s only 1 difference between the debacle last night and last weeks game against KC….and that was the opponent.
Everybody all together now, let’s self medicate: “it’s only preseason, it’s only preseason”. Repeat.
hmmm….i dont feel any better.


August 20th, 2010
7:51 am

Falcons wet their pants! Need Paul Johnson to coach!


August 20th, 2010
7:59 am

Still here Jeff? Too bad. You should have been fired ages ago! All the worst pal.


August 20th, 2010
8:04 am

We are now in the third year under this regime and there remains two constants:
1. We cannot stop our opponent on key third downs.
2. We still have not effectively incorporated into our offense a down field passing game.

This is on the coaches; this is on Mike Smith who hired, supervises and is accountable for his OC and DC.


August 20th, 2010
8:07 am

Here comes 7-9 ….
Steelers 35 Falcons 3


August 20th, 2010
8:13 am

What we learned from The Falcons/Patriots preseason football game:

The Patriots are a much tougher bunch than the Falcons. Their #1 offensive line manhandled the Falcon front 7. They gashed the Falcons defensive front at will.

Michael Turner doesn’t look any faster than he did last year…..the good news – he doesn’t look any slower either.

The Patriots DBs didn’t seem to have any difficulty covering any of our WRs.

Chevis Jackson probably shouldn’t be playing professional football.

The Falcons defensive line can be shoved around.

None of our recent defensive draft picks have had a significant positive impact in a football game…yet, except for an occasional play here or there.

Thomas and Smitty still have an awful lot of work to do to raise the value of my season tickets to match their price.


August 20th, 2010
8:17 am

No big deal—the falcons were holding their offensive packages back. They didn’t want to show anything. when the season starts, they’ll light it up—bank on it.

falconidae from TAFT

August 20th, 2010
8:17 am

So, Jeff, Two questions:
Do you think that NE had an advantage by practicing with the falcons for two days?

Are the Falcons missing Jenkins that much on O?