Matt Ryan overcomes first hellish week (not that he noticed)

Matt Ryan and Jason Snelling each had three touchdowns to celebrate Sunday, as well as a lopsided Falcons' win over Arizona.

Matt Ryan and Jason Snelling each had three touchdowns to celebrate Sunday, as well as a lopsided Falcons' win over Arizona.

Since 2008, Matt Ryan has gone from being a semi-embraced, first-round draft pick (remember Glenn Dorsey?), to a franchise savior (playoffs!), to just pretty good, to having questionable arm strength, to being an opening week loser to Dennis Dixon in Pittsburgh, to mounting doubts about his career and one NFL media outlet whispering that the Falcons were “having doubts” about him.

So did the room just stop spinning?

If Ryan cemented neither his legacy nor the Falcons’ fate this season, he at least calmed nerves and muzzled critics Sunday.

He threw a touchdown pass on the Falcons’ first possession. He was the model of efficiency, completing 21 of 32 passes for 225 yards, three touchdowns with zero interceptions.

Ryan and the Falcons did what good quarterbacks and good teams are supposed to do: They followed a fizzle on opening week at Pittsburgh with a dominating performance over an overmatched opponent: 444 yards in offense and a 41-7 body slam of Arizona at the Georgia Dome.

Now he’s the greatest quarterback in the history of the world again.

When Ryan was asked how he handled the week, with doubts swirling around for really the first time in his career, he responded: “The biggest thing is to remain consistent in your routine. In this position, there’s going to be a lot thrown at you. You need to have tunnel vision and remain focused on what’s important, and the big thing is understanding what’s important.”

Then he added, as if confirming the tunnel vision: “To be honest I didn’t hear too much about it. So that probably helped.”

Let’s be clear about something: Ryan wasn’t awful in Pittsburgh. He just wasn’t as good as he needed to be.

As Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said, including Ryan in this analysis: “There was a sense of urgency we didn’t have in the Pittsburgh game. We have high expectations and we need to back it up with that sense of want and urgency that we talked about in the offseason.”

Ryan took charge Sunday. Granted, nobody would confuse the Cardinals’ defense with the Steelers’. But Ryan was significantly better, even after losing his starting running back (Michael Turner) and a backup (Jerious Norwood). He found wide receiver Roddy White on second-and-goal from the Cards’ seven for the first touchdown. He completed five of seven passes and drew an interference call on the second touchdown (a pass underneath coverage to the NFL’s sudden Fantasy League hero Jason Snelling).

Early in the third quarter, just three plays after rookie William Moore’s interception set up the Falcons at the Arizona 14, Ryan fired a bullet into the end zone for Brian Finneran to increase the lead to 31-7. That pretty much shut the door on this one, and presumably it also will smother some of the nonsense for now.

Earlier in the week, the NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi reported that some within the Falcons’ organization were “having doubts” about Ryan. (Noteworthy: Lombardi also reported in the offseason that the Falcons were in trade talks with  San Diego for linebacker Shawne Merriman, which proved baseless.)

Dimitroff smiled when asked about the Ryan report. “All I can tell you is it didn’t come from myself or Mike Smith,” he said. “Do I need to say anything else?”

He did: “It’s ridiculous to think there’s concerns.”

Teammates noticed no difference in Ryan’s preparation during the week. White said: “When people said they were doubting him, I was like, ‘Off one game?’ I don’t know the last time somebody scored 30-something points on the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Dimitroff said Ryan’s reaction to the relative tumult confirmed what the Falcons thought of him before the draft.

“Matt knows this is an ever-evolving stage and he isn’t affected by it, and that’s one of the reasons we wanted him as our quarterback,” he said. “We know there are growing pains in the NFL, and those growing pains don’t stop in year two.”

At least we know it will be a quieter week.

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276 comments Add your comment

Reid in EAV

September 19th, 2010
6:42 pm

First?

A thoroughly enjoyable win. Any definitive word yet on Turner and Norwood? It would hurt to be without both in NOLA.

epic_quibble

September 19th, 2010
6:44 pm

Jeff Schultz

September 19th, 2010
6:47 pm

Jeff Schultz

September 19th, 2010
6:47 pm

Now that we got that out of the way . . .

FrontRow

September 19th, 2010
6:49 pm

It’s gonna be quiet this week – all the haters are eating their hats.

REAL falcon fan . from way back

September 19th, 2010
6:50 pm

REAL falcon fan . from way back

September 19th, 2010
6:51 pm

1-1 is better than that deep hole 0-2.

JTH

September 19th, 2010
6:52 pm

Michael Lombardi needs to quit with this crap. Name the source. He won’t because there isn’t one. He’s just making this up to get attention.

FrontRow

September 19th, 2010
6:55 pm

What’s Lombardi making up now?

REAL falcon fan . from way back

September 19th, 2010
6:55 pm

Just have to say it again,
Hats off to Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Falcons for bouncing back during the first annual
.
” Jeff Schultz Bounc Back Week ‘

5150 P.O.A.D

September 19th, 2010
6:56 pm

A team at home in Georgia wearing Red & Black can win a game after all. Well, Richt and Bobo were not on the sidelines for one of the Red & Black wearing teams. Good game Falcons.

Falcon FAN

September 19th, 2010
7:01 pm

Proud day for a Falcon FAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ivan

September 19th, 2010
7:02 pm

Oh, now the voice of reason is starting to “rise up”. I said the Steelers game was well played by both teams. Although it was a loss, a game that goes into overtime could have been won in regulation by any one play that got away.

But, somehow, people on here thought the Falcons were supposed to score 30+ points against a Steelers defense. They cried “Panic!”, “The sky is falling!”, and all other nonsense. I said should the Falcons offense do the same against the Cardinals, then we’ll talk about Chicken Little. But I didn’t think it would happen, and the Falcons did fine.

*ahem*

I told you so.

Red & Black

September 19th, 2010
7:03 pm

This was no Game, It was a BEAT DOWN of the Cardinals. Hope the Falcons can do the same to Saints.

Hilbilly Deluxe

September 19th, 2010
7:03 pm

One week everybody thinks he’s awful, the next week they think he hung the moon. People need to not obsess over one game.

john p

September 19th, 2010
7:05 pm

That was one of the most dominating games I’ve ever scene the Falcons play! Great team performance! I think it’s all about getting in a rythm and man did they find it! The New Orleans game could prove to a great one! especially with NO coming off a Monday night game, I think Atlanta has a real chance against the Saints this year!!! What do think Jeff??

UGABugKiller

September 19th, 2010
7:07 pm

Ryan is who we thought he was.

A good QB who’s at the mercy of an inconsistent offensive coordinator.

The Falcons could run the ball this week, so Mularkey was able to run the offense the way he wants to run it.

So, really, the big question about Mularkey wasn’t answered.

We STILL don’t know if Mularkey is able to adapt his play calling and his offense to take advantage of what the defense gives him when the running game is shut down.

Guess we’ll have to wait a while longer to see.

I buy Matt Ryan. I still don’t buy Mularkey.

DHunt

September 19th, 2010
7:09 pm

A little quieter week, huh? You must be planning to ignore all the re-annointing of Ryan babble that is bound to surface from this game. I mean the man lost both his best backs and still blew the Cards off the field. Snelling did his best impersonation of a great back today, and no doubt he was dog tired in the fourth after getting no breaks at all .This is a QB who was supposed to suffer without a top tier running game, but he picked up the Falcons today. He carved up the Cards all day, made some pretty good throws, and his receivers caught everything. A+ Offensive effort today.

From where I was sitting in the dome, we should have scored at least three more touchdowns. Twice on third down when Ryan forced the ball to well covered receivers when there was a wide open receiver he totally missed, Once on that awful fumble; what was he thinking scrambling like he was about to do some damage? Here’s a fact. Matt Ryan can’t run. When he does that lame bootleg right, the linebackers don’t even bother to pursue him because they know their defensive linemen can catch him. That’s why nobody is ever open when they call that play. Can someone please offer one rational reason WHY they still run that play?

I think it’s fine to give Matt Ryan his due when he comes through like he did today. It’s equally fine to notice and comment on his weaknesses, which tend to become glaring against quality opposition. It’s equally ridiculous to praise him to the heights or damn him to the depths at this stage of his career. He hasn’t done enough to deserve either.

Defensively, I hope we don’t have to get used to that one long run every game. Time for somebody to shut that edge down. Kudos to the defensive backs for being right on the spot for most of the game. Mr. Fitzgerald got loose a few times, but they even managed to put him on the ground before he could get it in gear. William Moore played great, dropped his first chance at a pick but made the most of the second chance. Isn’t it great that he had two chances? Willie Mo, Spoon, and D-Rob are three hard hitting additions to this team that will continue to pay big dividends. A little bit better d-line play and we can go head to head with anybody in the league.

David W

September 19th, 2010
7:11 pm

Falcons D was impressive today. They are finally shutting teams down on 3rd down and the secondary looked particularly good (Robinson made several great plays). The O-Line played with some anger and opened up some gaping holes that both Turner and Snelling tore apart.

For all the haters, consider this: Pittsburgh’s defense shutdown the best running back in the league today, holding Chris Johnson to under 50 yards rushing. Game 1 was a slug-fest, which happens to the best of teams in the NFL, that just didn’t go the Falcons way.

Reid Adair

September 19th, 2010
7:17 pm

I think it’s great that Matt Ryan doesn’t listen to the members of the media who criticize him, then jump on his bandwagon, then criticize him, etc. They’ve proven, over history, to make far more absurd statements (Michael Lombardi on Shawn Merriman deal and Falcons doubting Ryan) and everything else.

And, Jeff, before the game, it was Matt Ryan was “was outplayed by a would-be third-string quarterback.” Now it’s, “Let’s be clear about something: Ryan wasn’t awful in Pittsburgh. He just wasn’t as good as he needed to be.”?

Let’s give credit where it’s due – to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense. They’ve allowed one touchdown in the first two games – and that was with 4:01 left in the fourth quarter today.

JJ

September 19th, 2010
7:21 pm

This just in – the Steelers are one of the better teams in the NFL with or without Roethlisberger. That overtime loss is going to look pretty good later in the season.

FrontRow

September 19th, 2010
7:23 pm

JJ – overtime loss IN PITTSBURG.

Bob Horner

September 19th, 2010
7:24 pm

I agree with Hilbilly Deluxe….and JS…you are a journalist you do good work…sometimes you annoy me…sometimes you feed me….please don’t call the Bulldogs “trembling chihushuas” this Thursday…..I had to google the spelling of that Mexican dawg…JS doesn’t…you’re a journalist you can do it without spell check….true..???

FrontRow

September 19th, 2010
7:25 pm

One of the good things about this win is, outside of maybe Jason Snelling, nobody really stood out for the Falcons. A real team effort.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matthew Cafaro, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Matt Ryan just overcame his first hellish week (not that he noticed). #Falcons. Read on: http://bit.ly/9CZK9F [...]

marko

September 19th, 2010
7:30 pm

Falcons having doubts about Ryan? Get serious. It still doesn’t make the Pittsburgh game go away. Matt could have played better, the line coud have blocked a little, they should have won that game. that was so last week, this week looks great. let’s hope this weeks team shows up in New Orleans next week.

Get Real

September 19th, 2010
7:31 pm

Most of Ryan’s critics are Vick fans who hate the Falcons-and they will he holloring about the black man being held down when 7 goes back to the bench- after beating the Lions, the worst team in the league.

Ryan had a great game and so did the defense and Snelling. Funny what a running game does to an offense and a qb. Good statement game.

Larry

September 19th, 2010
7:33 pm

Geed overall performance, but I am here to tell you that we still have an average OL as a group (Ryan was hurried all day), Sam Baker is a below average LT who has to hold to survive and, as UGABugKiller says, Mularkey will best best judge when the next elite defensive team takes their running game away and forcing him to stretch the field.

Not complaining, just still have the same concerns in a loss that I have after a blowout win. Next week will by much more telling!

Larry

September 19th, 2010
7:34 pm

insert “will be best judged…”

FrontRow

September 19th, 2010
7:35 pm

Hmmmmmm….I was there and I did not see Matt Ryan having a “great game”. Like I said, maybe Jason Snelling.

What you saw was your new Atlanta Falcons defense. Now that was impressive.

marko

September 19th, 2010
7:40 pm

As good as it was, what if Ryan starts connecting on his deep passes?

UGABugKiller

September 19th, 2010
7:41 pm

FrontRow, yeah, Ryan didn’t have a great game. 3 TDs. Over 60% completion percentage.

How did your boy Joe Fluke-O do?

… ignorant fool.

Larry

September 19th, 2010
7:41 pm

Just in: Jerious Norwood just tripped over a beer can walking to his car and injured his earlobe.

JSS

September 19th, 2010
7:43 pm

He (Matt Ryan) noticed… Go back and see my comment about Derek Anderson before the season when you said: “The Falcons catch a break.” Should I remind you? You better get fat on teams like these!

fatz

September 19th, 2010
7:45 pm

what happened today is what we knew all along- the Falcons are better served with Jason Snelling running the ball. He gave Ryan what he needed- a running game. If nothing else, Smith needs to split the carries between Turner and Snelling. Snelling has the fresher legs and he hasn’t been beaten down from too many hits. When the Falcons run well, Matt Ryan works.

Mr Charlie

September 19th, 2010
7:45 pm

Roth is not the leader of the Steelers, Troy is. Notice they won today and helf a pretty good Chris Johnson to 50 yards.

The only real big mistake Ryan made was the int where Troy P outsmarted him, and her a little honor about that too.

Ryan is fine, he won’t win it by himself, but he just needs to be smart, let our D play strong, and take what the D gives him.

Mr Charlie

September 19th, 2010
7:47 pm

Not hearing much about how we should have drafted Joe Flacco. LOL.

Mr Charlie

September 19th, 2010
7:48 pm

I also like the screen to Jason. I think him a turner as Thunder and More Thunder is great strategy to wear teams down.

Mr Charlie

September 19th, 2010
7:50 pm

Schaub tossed for 500 yards to day. That just rubs salt in the wound.

Get Real

September 19th, 2010
7:51 pm

@FrontRow- Hmmmmmm. Matt Ryan today -225 passing, 3 Tds, 10-16 on 3rd down, a qb rating of 117 and improving to 14-1 at home. Yeah you just are missing something alright.You would have seen a lot had the Falcons lost I bet.

…and by the way, Titans RB Chris Johnson was held to 34 yards rushing today against the Steelers. The Steelers won that game too. So it looks like Ryan and the Falcons lost on the road to one of the best defenses in the league so far.

B

September 19th, 2010
7:51 pm

When a team runs the ball like that they nevr lose. Don’t get carried away we beat the Cardinals which everyone knew they were going to have a bad year. You fans got your test next week beat the Saints then tell why Ryan is not throwing the deep ball don’t him fool you. He is not who you think he is stop being a fan and watch the we are not winning with Ryan being a major factor it’s everyone else.

Mr Charlie

September 19th, 2010
7:54 pm

Falcons lost on the road in OT to the best D in the NFL. Ryan got snookered by Troy, it is happened to the best of them.

Fitten

September 19th, 2010
7:54 pm

Ryan didn’t play well: still can’t hit deep pass even when WIDE OPEN. Ryan’s TD pass to Finn was typical of all his passes. Dangerous but THIS WEEK, Ryan didn’t pay the price for being a weak armed QB

falconfan 2986

September 19th, 2010
7:54 pm

Roddy White caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, as Atlanta outgained the opposition 444-267 and held the ball for nearly 40 minute.

The Cards is a good NFL team and win their division. They are 1-1 like us.We are a powerhouse. Go Falcons.

falconfan 2986

September 19th, 2010
7:56 pm

Knuckleheads, we won the game. Stop whining and doubting. Think positive. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Football is a team sport.Go Falcons. Lookout Aints, a storm is heading your way.

getbuzzed

September 19th, 2010
7:57 pm

this just in from Michael Lombardi: the Ravens are looking to trade Flacco,

falconfan 2986

September 19th, 2010
7:58 pm

Schaub is not a Falcon. Good for him. We beat the Texans with Matt as their quarterback. Go falcons.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

September 19th, 2010
7:59 pm

I love Norwood but good god my great granny doesn’t get hurt this easy when she trips.

Here’s hoping Norwood and Turner are both ok and will be back to play next week against that horrid Trash from new orleans.

UGABugKiller

September 19th, 2010
8:00 pm

Here they go again.

The Vick Fans-Ryan Haters, when Ryan wins a game and looks good doing it, they go to their old stand bye: Ryan has a weak arm.

Hey Felon-lovers, guess who knows Ryan can make ALL the throws in the NFL?

Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith.

So keep talking. Go to an Eagles board and go love on your favorite felon, the DogKilla.

falconfan 2986

September 19th, 2010
8:01 pm

Matt threw three touchdown passes. I say he played fine. If he would have played better, we would have scored sixty points.