Falcons are looking special, and it starts with Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan says he feels more confident than ever, and it shows in his performance. (AP photo)

Matt Ryan threw three more touchdown passes Sunday and seems to have taken his play to a new level this season. (AP photo)

SAN DIEGO – The common refrain in football is that the quarterback gets too much credit when everything is going right for a team and too much blame it’s circling the drain. So let’s start with this: The Falcons aren’t 3-0 just because Matt Ryan seems to have morphed into Roger Staubach.

A defense that lost its best cover cornerback (Brent Grimes) in Week 1 forced four more turnovers and made the San Diego Chargers look anemic Sunday (three points). Ryan has a receiving corps that enables him to alter his targets (Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez) the way others laugh and change aim in a boardwalk shooting gallery (ducks, birds, wildebeest-looking safeties). There also is an obvious resilience about a team that bodyslams Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on a Monday night, then travels to the West Coast in a short week and humiliates a pretty good 2-0 team on its home field.

But it all starts with the quarterback.

The Falcons dismembered the San Diego Chargers 27-3, and Ryan was the centerpiece. He threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns in a 20-0 first half, after which almost everybody stopped paying attention. All of those Chargers fans who had claimed about a local TV blackout suddenly felt thankful.

Included in Sunday’s first half: Ryan, without even a semblance of a running game, engineered a 17-play, 96-yard touchdown drive in a rare late-summer heat wave that led center Todd McClure to say: “I’ve never had a feeling like that. I thought I was going to die. I thought I was going to pass out at any minute.”

Fortunately, the touchdown at the end was not a mirage. Neither was Ryan. He competed 30 of 40, which doesn’t account for a couple of drops and throwaways and a touchdown negated by a penalty. He has led the offense to 11 touchdown drives (eight thrown) in three games. He looks better and more confident in Year 5 than he did in 1, 2, 3 or 4 (not that he was bad before).

There is an edge to his game. There is no hesitation before his decisions, no happy feet in the pocket, not a hiccup in his delivery. He is finding ways to elude pressure, even in tight spaces and when the protection is collapsing around him.

Gonzalez said, “He’s really coming into his own. I think a lot of it has to do with maturity and his wanting to be one of the best, and [offensive coordinator] Dirk [Koetter] coming in and simplifying things.”

Ryan threw incomplete on his first third-down attempt of the game. His next nine passes on third down were completed. Eight went for first downs, one for a touchdown.

Who does that?

“When it’s third and long and we keep getting first downs, you know he’s doing something special,” tackle Tyson Clabo said.

Ryan is not big on talking about himself. But when asked about his confidence level whether his game had ascended to the next level, he didn’t hesitate.

“I feel as confident as I ever have,” he said. “I think a lot of that has to do with experience — having good experience[s] and bad experience[s], and now realizing that I can do it. I can make the plays we need to make in order to win. And confidence comes from having a lot of talented guys around you. I think we have as good a wide receiver corps as any in the NFL. The other thing is, I’ve had time. We’ve thrown the football quite a bit and I haven’t been hit a lot. When you have those things around you, it helps you play fast, feel good and feel confident.”

It’s early. September isn’t a time for grand proclamations. But if the first three games are any indication, the Falcons have the look of a pretty special team, and Ryan is looking more like a quarterback who can get them there.

By Jeff Schultz

• Earlier: Short takes on the Falcons’ win: Resiliency, Ryan and turnovers

417 comments Add your comment

JSS

September 23rd, 2012
11:07 pm

@ 10:59…
Those fantasies just run through your mind like dementia grows from your disease… Tick-tock…

JSS is a Troll

September 23rd, 2012
11:24 pm

Well, folks… that’s about the best this defrocked super-genius, nay, this unclothed Emperor has to offer in retort.

See him for what he is and pity him for his deep, angry, miserable life.

Because, you know, it’s always someone else’s fault with failures like JSS the Troll. They are, of course, much, much better than you or I.

Pity him for his undeserved arrogance. Pity him for his self-inflated idea of his own mediocre intelligence. Pity him for the petty, silly way he looks down his nose at every single one of you because of how much better than you he believes himself to be.

Pity him because, well, it’s just the human thing to do for someone as obviously mentally unbalanced as JSS the Troll.

Ken

September 23rd, 2012
11:25 pm

Falcons 3-0 that is how you RISE UP!!!!

Kane337

September 23rd, 2012
11:28 pm

Feels good to be an Atlanta Falcon!!!!

JSS

September 23rd, 2012
11:31 pm

@ 11:24P…
Cue old wore Aerosmith…
“Dream-on!”

bigeasy830

September 23rd, 2012
11:35 pm

Matt Ryan is looking very good. The Falcons as a whole look like Super Bowl contenders. It looks like a special season ala 98. I know it’s early and only week 3. But barring injuries, I see a 14-2 or 13-3 number 1 or 2 seed this year.

NARD

September 23rd, 2012
11:55 pm

I TOLD YALL Matty ICE would be all right when they let him play QB………..Where is all the VICK lovers NOW?

NARD

September 23rd, 2012
11:56 pm

MATT RYAN The best QB in FALCONS HISTORY!!!!!!!

Keith

September 23rd, 2012
11:58 pm

Jeff,

Offensive Coordinator doing a good job.
Defensive Coordinator doing a great job despite losing our best Corner.
Ryan has been almost perfect.
Defense has been superb.

Excellent start to the year!!!

Go DIRTY BIRDS! :)

"CON" Vick

September 24th, 2012
12:08 am

JSS

September 23rd, 2012
11:31 pm
@ 11:24P…
Cue old wore Aerosmith…
“Dream-on!”

========================================

I bet Aints fans want to wake up from their nightmares. At least we can dream… You can dream your draft.

JSS

September 24th, 2012
12:18 am

You guys are rich, everyone is a stealth Saints fan in your messed up world, grow up… Dude, you need get rid of the fantasies and the conspiracies & stop being nuts… Enjoy!

SeenThisB4

September 24th, 2012
12:18 am

please send me hatemail at my twitter account, SeenThisB4.
let me know how good the saints are and how good the falcons are. Please be mercilessly.

JSS

September 24th, 2012
12:24 am

Childishness, it is beyond the pale….

falCANS

September 24th, 2012
12:52 am

SUPERBOWL!!!… Yall make sure the ppl who doubted uz before be made aware this bandwagon is full

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 24th, 2012
12:53 am

Sorry guys I’m choking the chicken tonight.

FalconJim

September 24th, 2012
12:55 am

Yep, Matty Ice is the real deal!!! He’s coming into his own, and what a great time to be a Falcons fan!!!

Oh, and stop feeding the trolls…..maybe they’ll just go crawl back into their hole…

Gritsfalcon

September 24th, 2012
1:03 am

I’ve never been a huge believer in Matt Ryan. But if he keeps playing like he did Sunday versus S. Diego I’ll be more than happy to eat some crow. Keep running Jacuzz Rogers!!!
It was great day; Braves and Falcons won, Saints lost. Yep-it’s a beautiful world!

Cheese Gritz Blitz

September 24th, 2012
1:04 am

Only thing that bothers me about Ryan is he is playing like this for the contract extension and making $$. Would have been nice if he played like this previous years also.

j

September 24th, 2012
1:17 am

I think Ryan is playing for more than the contract extension. He has made a lot of money already and knows a lot more is on the way, but I think Matty is concerned only with winning a Super Bowl and trying to be the best QB in the league. His work ethic speaks to that.

ueeediot

September 24th, 2012
1:20 am

3-0 overall and 2 games up in the division

Bring on the Panthers

(There is a 4.2% chance the Aints make the playoffs and a 41% chance Atlanta is the #1 seed in the NFC)

Thomas Brown

September 24th, 2012
1:54 am

I actually watched a few minutes of the Falcons’ game. I like Arthur Blank and I like Mike Smith. We’re a passing football team, and getting Julio Jones, was the statement of this. Mike Nolan’s Defense looks really good. We are solid on special teams. As a franchise, for the 1st time ever, we have it going on. We’re not a joke. Having given up on my Falcons’ seasons’ tickets, we might actually have some fans now.

I am a Bulldogs’ fan. We do not beat the top teams, and never have in the entire Mark Richt era, comparing what the other SEC programs have done to what he has done, in the Mark Richt era. I went to the game Saturday night and it was a beautiful game and beautiful evening – then, again it was hapless Vandie who has no offense with their # 78 NCAA Total Offense. Vandie’s only win all season long is against Presbyterian college.

Mark Richt era has shown that of just SEC teams against teams making the AP Poll Top 10, Mark Richt is # 8. We are ranked # 5 consensus ranking today. We have not played anyone and do not play anyone as both Florida and South Carolina end 2012 nowhere near the AP Poll Top 10. Where we are ranked today, or them, has nothing to do with where they end up. We will not lose to anyone on the “schedule” and have then our hats handed to us by Alabama, who has 6 wins over teams making the AP Poll Top 10 in the Mark Richt era, 2 times what Mark Richt has accomplished.

Alabama is nowhere near what the other SEC programs in the Mark Richt era have done against teams making the AP Poll Top 10. Auburn, for example, almost got its 12th win in the Mark Richt era against teams making the AP Poll Top 10 Saturday.

When is Mark Richt going to win the big games, if ever ?

Certainly not after 2012, as in 2013 we face Alabama having lost our defense.

The last time we were 4-0 to start the season, we had an off-season much like this off-season was. We started out ranked very highly, and beat not 1 team who beat any team making the Top 25, even. We ended up # 13 in the AP Poll 2008, and it was the most unsatisfying season of the entire Mark Richt era.

1 team has it going on, and has built a foundation for the future. The other team has not done diddle-e-squat at beating the top teams, has a foundation 2012 of playing 12 games against teams who only 1 of which make the Top 25.

What we did today against San Diego is far better than what we did Saturday against hapless Vandie. I see Aaron Murray ran up his stats against another cupcake; he will never be able to run the football ever in his lifetime – so please quit with this, let him run the ball more. He is currently ranked outside the # 100 in the NFL draft, and will never throw a pass in his lifetime in the NFL.

Eric C.

September 24th, 2012
4:16 am

JSS, re: Nolan Stats ok, so he is not perfect, but as I implied in my previous post, he doesn’t need to be with the current offense.

JSS

September 24th, 2012
5:53 am

Eric, fool’s gold, ask 2011 Packers…Everyone gets found out eventually…

JSS

September 24th, 2012
6:00 am

Jeff Schultz…
If that is the real FJ, thanks… Enjoy the Zoo, the animals are out!

Honey boy

September 24th, 2012
6:16 am

JSS ….. Shave your back…..

Ivan

September 24th, 2012
6:24 am

Well i woke up this morning to see the Falcons are still in their rightful place at the top of the division with a 3-0 record.

Haters gona hate

Matt "CHOKE" Ryan

September 24th, 2012
6:40 am

I am a tool.

Mike Vick is still the best.

Matt Ryan is useless.

I like men.

choke this jss

September 24th, 2012
6:45 am

Has choke chocked JSS’ chicken? That is what aint fans do when they are 0-3.

Nite Owl

September 24th, 2012
6:46 am

@JSS:

I have a special needs child. You crossed the line, and I don’t appreciate it. I don’t care if your excuse is that you are reacting to personal posts. Some things are just off limits.

And accept that you have been wrong about these Falcons so far. Or don’t. I really don’t care what you think anymore.

Longtimefan

September 24th, 2012
6:52 am

JSS- just come on board. The ride is fun. Unless(as I suspect) you are really not a fan and just enjoy the banter. Because nobody at this time in the season can deny that Matt Ryan and the Birds look like they may be the real deal. To refute makes the poster look kind of petty and silly. That’s why no MCR. He knows better than to show up right now.

Longtimefan

September 24th, 2012
6:55 am

JSS-it appears you have resorted to personal attacks since it would make you look foolish to post negative comments about the Falcons’ play so far this season.

come on

September 24th, 2012
7:09 am

doesn’t look good for the saints. From Elias: “The Saints fell to 0-3 with a 27-24 overtime loss to the Chiefs, and New Orleans’ record might actually be worse than it sounds. Washington, Carolina, and Kansas City, the three teams that beat the Saints, are all winless in their other games. Only one other team in NFL history–that’s dating back to 1920–started a season with a 0-3 mark, losing to teams that were 1-2 after their first three games. That was the 1989 Cowboys, who finished the season with a 1-15 record.”

GSUEagle

September 24th, 2012
7:16 am

Sam Baker should get some mention and credit after taking a pounding last year. He’s stepped up!

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
7:16 am

Once again JSS is a troll is putting both his feet in your angus JSS…..does it hurt?

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
7:19 am

However with all your psrsonal attacks and mean spirited post ( since you cant talk football or back up your predictions or say you were wrong) you go and offend others. Wow Schultz and you let this guy continue to post…..lol. angry little man JSS….angry little man

Samuel

September 24th, 2012
7:29 am

The Falcons have been successful because Mike Nolan has installed a defense that plays solid and they take the ball away. Hence, Matt Ryan and company get another opportunity to put points on the board. That offense can be pretty high powered. Now crush the Panthers and let’s roll. GO Falcons!

Paddy

September 24th, 2012
7:32 am

JSS………you crossed the line. Back off before DOL & Jeff lock you out.

Inbred UGA fan

September 24th, 2012
7:37 am

Man we shore put the smackdown on Vandy Saturday night. Vandy is one of the top teams in the world. I got so excited that I peed my pants. Good things I was wearing a Depends.

tndawg

September 24th, 2012
7:51 am

It is a long season. A long way from playoffs and Super Bowl. Falcon fans just sit back and enjoy a 3-0 start. As a longtime suffering Falcon fan I can say that the “Dirty/Angry Birds” of the last few years sure look a lot better than the days of winning maybe 4 or 5 games. Super Bowl or no Super Bowl I`m enjoying what I see from the Falcons.

And I`m loving what I see from the Ants! 0-3 LOL!

Go Falcons!

Whiskey Breath

September 24th, 2012
7:54 am

Jeff, I was going to say you were a master of the obvious. But you did a nice job of writing
about the man that put it all together.

Whiskey Breath

September 24th, 2012
7:59 am

TB, a little wordy, but excellent analysis. I wish you were always that good. The rest of your guys
think the same thing, that just don’t have the courage to say it.
Job well done.

Chop Buster

September 24th, 2012
7:59 am

If it’s one time (make that twice) I hope Smitty runs up the score on a team, it’s when we play them sewage Aints. For all the garbage we have to endure from their trolls coming here and bragging about their Superbowl, I just want to see a beat down of Brees and that team. And how ironic Lofton goes there…said he wanted to go to a winning team. LMAO!!! I bet he feels stupid now…especially since we kicked him to the curb.

Eric

September 24th, 2012
8:01 am

It’s true we need to temper our enthusiasm a bit considering how early it still is. But considering the rest of the schedule through the bye (Car @ home, @ Was, and Oak @ home) this team could easily be 6-0 at the bye and in a commanding lead in the South. Still, the four games after the bye will really test us and we will really see how good this team is. @ Philly is always tough for us as is Dallas for some reason. Then we have to deal with a desperate Saints team who may be in a position of playing spoiler by then.

In summary, we have a great start to build on and I believe the we can easily be 6-0 at the bye but we will really find out about our playoff chances during the 4-game stretch just after the bye…

Whiskey Breath

September 24th, 2012
8:02 am

In JSS defense, I understand how he might feel. The Falcons always dissapoint, coupled by the media
telling us how great they are.
That is all he is trying to say.

Nativebird

September 24th, 2012
8:07 am

Best QB in franchise history, top 11 from 2011, best QB rating of ALL NFL qb’s through first three games…..and NO ONE knows about it if you watch any of the national sports shows. I’ll say it again….Matt Ryan will win multiple superbowls….the question is….with what team will he do it? 2013……contract year…..will Arthur…..does Arthur….have what it’s going to take? And even if he does….does Ryan WaNT to return to a franchise that refuses to make the moves to win a championship. These are the real questions…..not this ridiculous arm strength crap. Arm strength? Ask The torched secondaries of KC, Denver and SD.

Magic City

September 24th, 2012
8:11 am

Falcons 3-0
Panthers 1-2
Bucs 1-2
sAints 0-3

TroutFalcon

September 24th, 2012
8:13 am

What a game I was jumping around my living room by the 4th quarter. Matt Ryan is as good as any QB in the NFL, and is very capable of winning a Super Bowl.

Joey

September 24th, 2012
8:14 am

I asked “Choke” a serious question last season, that did he think that maybe it was Ryan’s OC who was holding him back, and he responded with some crap about Ryan’s “noodle arm” blah, blah.

Now we know by the fact that he can’t come on here to congratulate Ryan for his good play this season, he is just a troll.

Probably looking at the Eagles’ box score and wondering how HIS QB only completed 17 of 37 passes and fumbled twice esterday, and sobbing . . .

Joey

September 24th, 2012
8:16 am

Saints 0-3. I just have 2 questions:

Time for the grocery bags again?

Is this what Karma looks like?

Cliff

September 24th, 2012
8:20 am

The comment that Tom made about he is glad that Grimes is gone was a low-blow. I don’t think Grimes is that great either due to his height, but he is never-the-less a great athlete. His ability to close on receivers with his speed is above average- Tom go back into whatever hole you crawled out of.