Beating Vick would be biggest win of Matt Ryan’s career

Matt Ryan has accomplished a lot in three seasons but a win over Michael Vick and Philadelphia would be the biggest of his career. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Matt Ryan has accomplished a lot but a win over Michael Vick would be the biggest of his career. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

It may sound strange considering Matt Ryan won 33 games in his first three seasons, won games that got the Falcons into the playoffs, won games in the fourth quarter and has beaten Green Bay (twice), New Orleans (twice) Baltimore and the New York Jets, among others.

But a win Sunday would be the biggest of Ryan’s career.

The Falcons play Philadelphia, a potential Super Bowl team. More importantly, the game is the first meeting between Ryan and Michael Vick as starters. (Ryan was injured during the first meeting between the teams with Vick coming off the bench; Ryan started the second meeting but Vick was injured.)

Regardless of who wins this game, there still will be Ryan fans and Vick fans, Falcons fans and anti-Falcons fans. But this will be Ryan’s first chance to win a game over Vick, who at his peak probably had a bigger hold on this city than any athlete in history.

Vick’s post-prison rebirth has been an amazing story, and the fact he is playing for one of the NFL’s premier teams makes it even bigger. For those who’ve held a grudge against Vick since he was instrumental in trainwrecking the Falcons franchise, that has been difficult to take.

There is no question the Falcons made the right call on Vick. He had inflicted too much damage on the franchise, betrayed trusts and burned bridges. Beyond the fact that there were no guarantees he ever would be a premier player again – and the odds certainly were against it — the team couldn’t wait around for two or three years without a starting quarterback. Going after Ryan was the absolute correct move.

But Vick hangover still exists, and this is Ryan’s opportunity to ease that.

It’s only the second game of the season. But if the Falcons win, Ryan won’t have a bigger one on his resume.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC; friend me at Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

405 comments Add your comment

MatthewH

September 15th, 2011
8:48 am

I agree it would be a great win, but it isn’t Vick vs. Ryan. It’s Falcons defense vs. Vick and Philly’s defense vs. Ryan. So, Matt Ryan won’t be “beating Vick”.

Gib Traf

September 15th, 2011
8:49 am

Dang straight!

Realist

September 15th, 2011
8:53 am

Love the Falcons, but Vick is going to put up huge numbers this weekend. Ryan better air it out and make some plays down the field or it could get ugly.

DJ Sniper

September 15th, 2011
8:55 am

MatthewH, I totally agree with you on this one. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who will see this as a Vick vs. Ryan matchup. I still like Vick, but I’m a Falcons fan first, and I really want us to win this game, if for no other reason, to shut all of the fair weather fans up for good.

Falcon Hardy

September 15th, 2011
8:56 am

This will be a test of both sides of the Field. If we win Mike Smith has corrected the ship, if we lose, then we won’t make the play off’s this year and we will have to overhaul the entire DEFENSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Jeff Schultz

September 15th, 2011
8:57 am

MatthewH — Quarterbacks vs. defenses might be reality, but perceptually it’s Ryan vs. Vick.

Double Zero Eight

September 15th, 2011
8:58 am

This will be commensurate to a playoff game.
We will know if Ryan has the mettle to take
it to the next level after this game!

Paul

September 15th, 2011
9:02 am

Honestly, does anyone really believe the Falcons can beat the Eagles?? The Falcons are my team, but they don’t even compete against Reid’s team.

Ted M

September 15th, 2011
9:02 am

Jeff – Who are you picking? I think the Eagles are gonna win but like the homer I am I’ll be pulling for the Falcons.

I must say… I am losing confidence in Ryan.

dean

September 15th, 2011
9:02 am

And “Perception is reality.”, even if it isn’t always the case.

Call it like it is

September 15th, 2011
9:05 am

“Schultz” Very poor attempt for blog hits. Vick is nothing to us. Its Falcons versus Eagles nothing more, nothing less.

Ted M

September 15th, 2011
9:05 am

Jeff – Can I have your tickets for the game? You need a day off.

MatthewH

September 15th, 2011
9:06 am

I know, I know, that’s the perception. It still makes me cringe, because I know that “fans” will try to make it into Vick vs. Ryan or even Vick vs. Arthur Blank (don’t laugh-have you read some of the comments lately?)
For the record, I also feel the same way in baseball when they try to hype pitcher vs. pitcher. Ridiculous.

Bear

September 15th, 2011
9:07 am

Ryan needs to air the ball out. Start agressive and jump to good lead will help this team a lot. I want all the fans to join me at the dome and cheer for the Falcons. Not one Vick chant from any Falcons fans.

JB

September 15th, 2011
9:07 am

After watching the Falcons last week and then reading about the Eagles, ain’t gonna happen. Richt beating Florida would also be huge. Muschamp CAN’T AFFORD for that to happen….and probably won’t.

PMC

September 15th, 2011
9:07 am

It would be yes I think so the biggest win of his career to date. But like Flacco’s big win last week, doesn’t really matter much until January.

JB

September 15th, 2011
9:09 am

What has happened to the Falcon offensive line? Ouch.

ATLien

September 15th, 2011
9:13 am

Falcons secondary is reason they won’t make the playoffs

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 15th, 2011
9:13 am

This CHUMP couldn’t beat an old dog :)

Like I said in the 2008 draft, they should have drafted Flacco.

Every year Flacco takes a step FORWARD not a step BACK. Look what he did to the NFL’s NUMBER 1 Defense.

The Ravens are talking contract extension for Flacco – Are the Falcons talking extension or detention for CHOKE :)

He is the BUST that I predicted :)

Jeff Schultz

September 15th, 2011
9:14 am

Ted M — “Jeff – Who are you picking?” <<<< Weekend Predictions will be up later.

Jeff Schultz

September 15th, 2011
9:16 am

Call it like it is — ““Schultz” Very poor attempt for blog hits. Vick is nothing to us.” <<<< If you were really calling it like it is, you wouldn’t be saying Vick is nothing to you.

Bear

September 15th, 2011
9:16 am

Ryan is not a bust. The man tied DAN MARINO with the most wins for a QB in his first three years. With no defensive help. The man is smart and can play the game.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 15th, 2011
9:17 am

Can we please stop the Peyton Manning comparisons now?

I mean this is really a serious insult to Manning.

This FOOL should be compared to the previous starting qb – Joey Harrington :)

Jeff Schultz

September 15th, 2011
9:18 am

JB — Not having the starting center (Todd McClure) always hurts. So does losing Harvey Dahl. And we’re all still waiting for Sam Baker to turn into something.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 15th, 2011
9:20 am

Bear

September 15th, 2011
9:16 am
Ryan is not a bust. The man tied DAN MARINO with the most wins for a QB in his first three years. With no defensive help. The man is smart and can play the game.

_______________________________________________

Then Flacco must be Joe Montana, Steve Young, Tom Brady & Brett Favre combined :)

Did you notice what those guys had in common? Stats that mattered.

Tax Nerd

September 15th, 2011
9:20 am

I agree that it is a big win…from a fan’s perspective, yes, I could assume that this is very big to most Falcon fans. From a football perspective, it’s only week two of a long season that will have very little impact on anything.

Ryan should not be worried about the fan perspective, sure it’s nice to get a win for the fans and for the football side of it. I think he just needs to go out there and try win a football game like he does each Saturday.

I think the biggest wins from a football standpoint for Ryan are:

1. The win against the Rams in 2009 to get rid of the back to back curse
2. The win over Chicago in 2008 with the throw to Michael Jenkins
3. The win over the Packers in round one of the playoff’s in 2010…oh wait..nevermind. (Just kidding, I had to do it)

The point is, I like Ryan, I like the Falcons and I just want them to win this game like it is no different than any other game on Sunday. The fans and media can turn it into whatever they want, but at the end of the day if the Falcons win, then they beat the Eagles..not Mike Vick.

Reality Check

September 15th, 2011
9:23 am

Jeff, you are dead on the money. If the Falcons do not win Sunday it will take a Super Bowl win for all of the supposed Falcon fans/Vick fans to admit that Matt Ryan was a good quarterback. If the Falcons do win all of the Ryan bashers will have to lay low for a while until a rematch with Vick.

Bear

September 15th, 2011
9:23 am

Flacco is decent but his name does not belong with any of those others you said.

Matty P

September 15th, 2011
9:24 am

The only way the Falcons win this game is if we use Abraham and Edwards to contain Vick in the pocket. Make him throw the ball. Get pressure up the middle and we can rattle him into making some bad throws. In a game like this, the turnover battle is key. We win the turnovers, we win the game.

I feel like we’ll probably have more of the same old vintage Mularkey conservative running gameplan, which may work this week, as Philly is weak against the run (see last week vs. Rams). This should keep Vick off the field enough to keep it competitive. Once Philly starts loading up the box, that’s when we should start taking shots down field against one on one coverage. If Turner has a good game, we’ll like the outcome.

JB

September 15th, 2011
9:24 am

This Sunday will also tell us a lot about Coach Smith. The Falcons have not looked that bad in a while…..And he said this week he will get it fixed. Fixed now, against a good team, or later against a patsy?

Bear

September 15th, 2011
9:25 am

And all the smiley faces is pretty gay.

mountain_jim

September 15th, 2011
9:26 am

Reid and Philly’s coaches have so outcoached Smith and Atlanta’s OC and DC that I view it more as Smith against Reid, and Mularkey/Ryan against Morningwheq/Vick.

Based on past matchups that is such a mismatch that I will shocked if it’s even close. After all that off-season talk about adding explosiveness to the offense it’s still the same simple, predictable, Mularkey, and good teams who can pretty much know what is coming can defend it pretty well.

I am really disapointed at Mularkey’s un-enhanced scheme and play-calling last week, also for BVG’s vanilla first-down give-away zone schemes.

I expect another 200 yard for Philly on screens and misdirection plays and -5 for Atlanta on same.

Tax Nerd

September 15th, 2011
9:27 am

Choke,

I am not here to troll you for feed you material, but I think it’s fair to say that Ryan has to win (Which he has done) in spite of never having a supporting defense. Look at wins last year like Cinncinatti, Ryan gets a nice early lead and the defense let’s them back in and then Ryan has to orchestrate another win in spite of terrible defense.

Flacco has Lewis, Suggs, and a host of other experienced good defensive players.

Did I forget to mention that the Falcons actually beat the Ravens last year?

PMC

September 15th, 2011
9:28 am

How come Joey Harrington never got this many haters? If Matt Ryan were as bad as you say “Choke” there would be no need for you to profess how bad he is all the time.

Jeff Schultz

September 15th, 2011
9:28 am

Reality Check — Thanks.

Reality Check

September 15th, 2011
9:29 am

Matt “choke Ryan”, you define a bust as someone that wins 33 games in first three years, makes the playoffs twice and post the first back to back to back winning seasons in franchise history? That is the most ignorant comment in history of blogs. Aunray Bruce= Bust, Ryan Leaf= bust, Tony Mandarich=Bust. At least you could just say that Matt Ryan has to prove he can win in playoffs, although the defense did have some blame against the Packers, who score in like 6-7 straight possessions. But don’t let facts get in the way of you anti Ryan bashing.

Terrell

September 15th, 2011
9:29 am

@Matt “CHOKE” Ryan

I thought wins was a “stat that matters.”

heartofdarkness

September 15th, 2011
9:29 am

Your headline should be “Perceptually, Beating Vick would be biggest win of Matt Ryan’s career”. In a league that is hollowing out its middle talent levels, high power offenses will have an advantage this year. The Falcons, under Mullarkey, have been running a ball control offense. It may have been a good strategy when defenses had more experienced players, but better offenses will be exploiting mistakes by younger players learning the NFL game, and have the advantage this season. One or two rookies starting per team will give offensive co-ordinators a lot of targets to exploit. Eagles should clearly be favored in this matchup, but you gotta play the game.

mountain_jim

September 15th, 2011
9:30 am

All that said, I will be watching and hoping Atlanta surprises me and wins. I got over MV7, but still while being a Falcons fan for 40 years and now watch Philly/MV7 when I can because I find that really entertaining, exciting football.

I used to support Mularkey’s conservative, ground-war attack but after that GB game and the first game this year I view him as a liability long term and hope Smith figures it out.

falconfanriseup

September 15th, 2011
9:30 am

The Eagles are good but do i think the Falcons will win YES: Why? because the Falcons will run the ball and The Defense will contain Mike Vick and DJackson Macoy will not be able to run the ball and we won’t give up any big plays…….Period

PMC

September 15th, 2011
9:32 am

Oh Sam Baker is something, a backup tackle or guard at this point. Starting Left Tackle….unfortunately.

5150 UOAD

September 15th, 2011
9:37 am

Just don’t let Matt Ryan pick a fight with Rennie Curran and we should be good.

Glenn Rice

September 15th, 2011
9:37 am

Anybody Seen Sarah Palin? :) In case you do tell her to holla at me.

Last time I checked...

September 15th, 2011
9:38 am

…Ryan was playing against the Eagles DEFENSE, not their offense, and it is the Falcons vs the Eagles, not Ryan vs Vick – so he, personall,y is NOT playing Vick – if the Falcons win, the TEAM wins; if they lose, the TEAM loses – so, give the made up “rivalry” a rest already…

JSS

September 15th, 2011
9:40 am

Poor Bear, still bashing the Gay folks… :-) Now say something!

If pigs could fly, most AJC reader would be first in line to get a license to try to shoot them…

Any win would be the biggest win of Ryan’s career after going 1 for his last 4… Brees, Rodgers, and Cutler have outscored his team: 95-to-47.

62jacket

September 15th, 2011
9:41 am

For those who say this game means little or nothing, couldn’t a win or a loss against Philly potentially determine home-field advantage in the playoffs?

JSS

September 15th, 2011
9:42 am

Hey but I good news for you, Matt was lights out against Jimmy Claussen!

PMC

September 15th, 2011
9:43 am

Imagine how much fun watching Fox News is for Glenn Rice.

Delbert D.

September 15th, 2011
9:43 am

Beating Vick? The Atlanta Falcons do not play “Vick”, any more than they play “Brees” or “Manning”. These blogs about which players’ house and competition between two offensive players are absurd. No more comments on this non-subject from me.

Tuggle58

September 15th, 2011
9:45 am

The ONLY stat that matters is the W. But, Ryan can’t get a W by himself. Do I really have to explain this?