Matt Ryan is ready to make amends in playoffs

Matt Ryan: Hear me loud -- I'm ready for playoffs this time. (Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com)

Matt Ryan: Hear me loud -- I'm ready for playoffs this time. (Jason Getz/jgetz@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH – If Matt Ryan speaks the truth, the television is off this week. If the radio is on, it’s tuned to therapeutic jazz, perhaps against the backdrop of rhythmic wind chimes and burning incense. Computer use: limited to email, golf tips and perhaps new meatloaf recipes.

This seems so much better than subjecting himself to a jackhammer against his cranium by media cretins (present company excluded, of course) who insist on bringing up the interception on his first career playoff pass at Arizona, or the fumble and ensuing touchdown return by Antrel Rolle that turned around that game, or the first interception last year against Green Bay that led to a 14-point swing, or the head-slapping, pick six by Tramon Williams just before halftime, which pretty much buried his team, or …

Hmmmmmm. Soft breeze. Golden sunset. Serenity. Opening up the chakras now. I’m sorry, did you say something?

Ryan is at peace. He should be. I mean, jeez, the guy has played two playoff games — albeit, two bad playoff games — and it’s as if he already has, “Can’t win the big one. Spontaneously combusts,” stamped on his forehead.

The Falcons’ quarterback now acknowledges he has let “outside stuff, the extracurricular things that go with the playoffs, the hype,” get to him in the past. So in the time between last Sunday’s regular-season-ending win over Tampa Bay and this Sunday’s playoff game against the New York Giants, he is trying to operate with blinders and earplugs.

“I think anybody who says they never see or hear any of that stuff to a certain degree is lying,” Ryan said. “But at this time of the year, it really takes a conscious effort of, ‘You know what? I’m not paying attention to that.’ Collectively as a football team, it’s one of the things we’ve learned.”

He cited last season’s three-turnover performance in a 48-21 loss to Green Bay. Ryan hardly was the only reason the Falcons, as a No. 1 seed and coming off a bye week, got shellacked at home. (Reason No. 1 was Aaron Rodgers: 31-for-36, 366 yards, three touchdowns.)

But Ryan made it too easy for the Packers. The bye week, which intersected with “Snowmageddon 2011,” created a lot of down time for the Falcons. That probably limited the Falcons’ needed tunnel vision. That’s not to suggest that’s why they lost, but it easily could have fed into the total collapse.

Ryan again: “You don’t think you’re affected by it. You feel you’re very well-prepared. But in hindsight, when you’re removed from the situation, you say, ‘OK, I think I can do this better, that better.’ That’s one of the things I can definitely do better.”

We’ve evolved (devolved?) into an instant-gratification society. So it’s not surprising that after so much regular-season success (43-19 as a starter) but two playoff losses, critics now wonder about Ryan’s ceiling.

A few reminders of just how premature that thinking is:

Eli Manning lost his first two playoff starts, then won a Super Bowl.

Peyton Manning lost his first two playoff starts and six out of nine, then won a Super Bowl in his ninth season.

John Elway lost his first two playoff starts, eight of 15 and had dropped three consecutive games before winning two Super Bowls … in the 15th and 16th seasons of his career.

But yes, Ryan has to be better. Three touchdowns and six turnovers (four interceptions, two fumbles) in two playoff games won’t cut it.

“It’s still so early for him,” said Tony Gonzalez, who’s still looking for his first postseason win. “I would anticipate he’s going to be in the playoffs a lot in his career. But, yeah, eventually you have to start performing. You’ve got to play well in the playoffs. … One thing about Matt is he learns from his mistakes. He’ll play up to a level that hopefully he’s satisfied with. I have no doubt about it. He’s a strong-minded person.”

Ryan doesn’t need to project “Hall of Fame” credentials against the Giants. He just can’t kill drives and hopes with turnovers. The Giants generate a strong pass rush (48 sacks), but they give up a ton of yards (376.4, ranked 27th) and points (25, ranked 25th).

Ryan’s lesson from the two playoff games?

“It usually comes down to three or four plays,” he said. “Like the pick six against Green Bay. Be smart as a quarterback, make plays when they’re presented. Don’t try to go above and beyond.”

He knows where that leads to.

By Jeff Schultz

Follow me on Twitter (@JeffSchultzAJC). Friend me on Facebook (Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC).

475 comments Add your comment

Mack

January 5th, 2012
1:15 pm

The G

January 5th, 2012
1:16 pm

If Turner has a 100+ yards, Ryan has his first playoff win! First?

Matt Ryan's Dad

January 5th, 2012
1:16 pm

Sheli is going down! Hopefully our “dirtbag” o line will be extra dirty on Sunday and protect Ryan.

D-man!

January 5th, 2012
1:16 pm

Herschel Talker

January 5th, 2012
1:17 pm

Schultzie:

I think we beat big Blue, but then we go to Green Bay and get hammered. Is that a successful season? I do not think so. I doubt Arthur will either.

HT

Michael

January 5th, 2012
1:17 pm

first?…and it was Snowmageddon 2011, this being 2012 and all…

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2012
1:18 pm

First! (Damn’t! I never win.)

PlanoDawg

January 5th, 2012
1:20 pm

You’ll always be a winner to me, Jeff.

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

January 5th, 2012
1:23 pm

So he admits he is a BUST.

About time now he can fullfil his clipboard holding destiny :)

PMC

January 5th, 2012
1:24 pm

I think it’s the right approach. This amount of talk gets to everyone. Fans, players, coaches. It’s really not that healthy to partake especially if you actually do have a say in the outcome of the game.

Ryan is playing really well, he’s right to try and narrow his focus and control what he can control.

Eli was a “bum” too until he miraculously escaped and David Tyree caught one against his helmet.

I expect Ryan to play well this week.

Mack

January 5th, 2012
1:29 pm

If Falcons protect Ryan, Falcons can win game.

Mike "SO-SO" Vick

January 5th, 2012
1:30 pm

Where is he playing these days… Oh yea, on the couch while Matty is in the P.O. Owned boy!

Hankie Aron

January 5th, 2012
1:32 pm

You should win Schultzie! You have the power and dare I say the force to do so.

Hankie Aron

January 5th, 2012
1:33 pm

GeoffDawg- That is unacceptable. If I was the filter guy, you get banned

Danny O

January 5th, 2012
1:49 pm

@GeoffDawg: Try to keep it classy.

Steve

January 5th, 2012
1:52 pm

Ha Ha. That was funny Jeff. I don’t get the “first” thing either. I guess it makes some peoples day.

Seeer

January 5th, 2012
1:54 pm

Wow, I love the awesome new nickname for the Falcons O-Line “Dirtbags”! Can’t wait to watch those dirtbags suck-up huge chucks of yards on Sunday! Thanks Tuck and you might want to get the number of the vacuum that just rolled over you. Probably #33 Turner!!

nastydog

January 5th, 2012
1:59 pm

Just go get a win Falcons! Ryan, we love you but don’t throw any picks!!! Remember Jeff George and and that vick guy? I’ll take this team today over those QB’s teams anyday! Yes, over vick!!!! Would you replace Chandler with Ryan? Might of won a super bowl with some time travel.

Sid

January 5th, 2012
1:59 pm

Amends………..? It takes a team to achieve victory and a team to submit to defeat. Atone, sure. Hell, anybody can make meatloaf.

Meatloaf Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup uncooked oats
3/4 cup ketchup
1 egg
1 envelope onion soup mix

Secret Meatloaf Topping Reicpe:
ketchup

Cook it.

Ryan's Team

January 5th, 2012
2:06 pm

Go Matt!!….tell everyone they can shove it up their a$$.

JSS

January 5th, 2012
2:08 pm

Run away from that meatloaf…

Giant Slayer....

January 5th, 2012
2:09 pm

“Start spreading the news, NY’s going down…..”

Sid

January 5th, 2012
2:11 pm

Weather forecast: East Rutherford, NJ for Sunday

High 44° Low 32°

Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 40s and lows in the low 30s.

UV Index: 2 (Low)
Relative Humidity: 55%
Precipitation: 10%
Snow Probability: 7%
Cloud Coverage: 27%
Moon Phase: Full
Wind Speed: 8Mph (12Km, 6Kts)
Wind Direction: 321° (NW)

dawg tired

January 5th, 2012
2:13 pm

Anyone, like Ryan, can say, “I need to get better.” A great player actually does.

Sid

January 5th, 2012
2:15 pm

JSS January 5th, 2012 2:08 pm
Run away from that meatloaf…

*******************************************
Hell, JSS, you don’t have to run, it’ll do all the runnin’ for ya……………:)

Kirk

January 5th, 2012
2:17 pm

@Matt “CHOKE” Ryan ,

You must be really fun to be around.

Bears still dead vs. Not "Everyone's All-American"

January 5th, 2012
2:18 pm

Heard the Bamard Harvey Updykes and Gumps made it to Naw ‘leans to meet up with ghetto and “Swamp People”. Yeehaw!….English will certainly not be the primary language there this week.

M. Vick

January 5th, 2012
2:19 pm

I really wish I was in the playoffs like Matt Ryan.

JSS

January 5th, 2012
2:20 pm

@ Sid…
The 2nd and 4th ingredients sure prove that point!

PreyDawg

January 5th, 2012
2:25 pm

Jeff- Good point for discussion here. I agree with and believe everthing in the article. I like Ryan’s honesty. But just philosophically I often wonder about the following comment:

“Be smart as a quarterback, make plays when they’re presented. Don’t try to go above and beyond.”

Just from the standpoint of a QB. How does one accomplish this? How do you know when a play is there and you need to “Pull the trigger” as John Elway just said this week, and when to hold the ball and not do to much??

And you have to know the difference over the course of about 2 seconds with Justin Tuck running right at you. How do you reach that point? How do you flip the switch. The playoffs are different. You need a couple of great plays. How do you push the envelope and not push the envelope??

Is this why these guys get paid bunches?

Playoffs?, Plaaaayoffs?!!!!!

January 5th, 2012
2:28 pm

Mikey aint there….pityhahahahahhahahaha

Sid

January 5th, 2012
2:29 pm

Seattle (7-9) went into MetLife Stadium this year and spanked ‘em. Giants lost to the Redskins (5-11) twice this year. Are we impressed they beat the Cowboys twice? Nope. They beat New England in Gillette Stadium after they were gifted 4 turnovers. 32nd in the rush, 29th in passing defense. Yeah, they’ll be blue alright. Falcons 33 Giants 23

Go Detroit Saturday Night!!!!!!!

January 5th, 2012
2:31 pm

Suh might put Brees in the ER

Go Detroit Saturday Night!!!!!!!

January 5th, 2012
2:33 pm

Stafford will be the best quarterback on the field Saturday!

biff pocaroba

January 5th, 2012
2:34 pm

now is the time for matt ryan to as the old saying go’s,spit or get off the pot

Ryans Hope

January 5th, 2012
2:37 pm

Julio and Roddy catch, don’t drop those passes in your hands.

PreyDawg

January 5th, 2012
2:37 pm

@ Sid- I like it!! Good post!!

nastydog

January 5th, 2012
2:40 pm

Since Stafford has made the playoffs and looking good, is it time for him to leave early for the CFL?

Hot, Hot, Hot.......I like it like that

January 5th, 2012
2:41 pm

Defense….step up and send Eli & Cruz to a conga line on an island.

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2012
2:44 pm

PlanoDawg — “You’ll always be a winner to me, Jeff.”

<< Ah shucks

Giant Slayer....

January 5th, 2012
2:45 pm

we gottem some injuries that need some quickie healing boys.

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2012
2:46 pm

Hankie Aron, Danny O — “GeoffDawg” has gone bye-bye.

Brian

January 5th, 2012
2:47 pm

Here are the NFL QB’s GM’s would rather have than Matt Ryan from a pure skill standpoint (not durability, character, etc…):

Rodgers, Brees, Stafford, Cam Newton, Michael Vick, Eli Manning, Romo, Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, Big Ben, Tom Brady

I like Ryan and I think he is going to get better but he’s not quite a top ten QB. I think with a dominant defense he can still lead us deep into the playoffs but I’m not sure he has “elite” playmaking capability.

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2012
2:47 pm

Thanks Sid. Can that be any ketchup or does it have to be the hoity-toity Heinz?

Joe Blow

January 5th, 2012
2:47 pm

Come on Matt,,, Dont let your Meatloaf.

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2012
2:48 pm

By the way, the best meatloaf recipes actually combine ground beef, ground veal and ground pork for the perfect balance, texture and taste. But I digress . . .

Jeff Schultz

January 5th, 2012
2:49 pm

PreyDawg — I think Ryan was referencing times in the past when he tried to force the ball into coverage. Agree at some point he’ll need to “make a play.”

Giant Slayer....

January 5th, 2012
2:51 pm

Mr. Jeff, You on your way to the game this weekend? Live blogging?
Seriously though, who don’t you expect to be able to play this weekend?
Looks like a line of injury bugs going into game….How about Moore, Nicholas, Weatherspoon, Douglas etc. off hand?

PreyDawg

January 5th, 2012
2:52 pm

@Brian- Take Romo off and put Ryan on and you are about right. I think Vick comes off too for his inability to read a defense after all this time. But I aint getting into no Vick discussion.

Still, how many times in our history could we put a QB on a top ten list. Chris in ‘98 for sure, Bart in 1980 maybe.

oldmike

January 5th, 2012
2:53 pm

Could the blog please block the monotonous and irritating Matt “Choke” Ryan. Please go away. Before you do, who among all the available qb’s out there that were ours for the taking when Matt came available would you rather have?