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

Seen This B4

September 24th, 2012
10:13 am

This morning after I woke up and rolled over to give my sister a goodbye kiss, I ran to my computer. The NFL is responsible for everything that goes wrong in New Orleans. Anyone who cheers for another team is only doing it because the are jealous of the sweet smelling city of New Orleans.

Ueeediot

September 24th, 2012
10:15 am

One thing that has been painfully obvious to anyone who took time to watch….The Aints cannot stop the run.
It doesnt matter if the refs all lined up behind the LBs. The Aints cannot stop the run. Washington ran all over them for 153 yards. Carolina sucks (really bad) and ran all over them for 163 yards. Atlanta beat the crap out of a really bad Chiefs team (I know they are bad because all you Taints fans said so after week 1) but the Chiefs ran for (omg this post is taking forever because of the laughing) 273 yards. J Charles had a 90+ run and WAS NEVER TOUCHED yesterday. LMAO

please taints, stop it. I am going to get a hernia from laughing so much.

Dude, it aint the refs running the ball down your throat.

The Saints destroyed themselves

September 24th, 2012
10:17 am

“Goodell has made it his personal quest to destroy the Saints. That is why there is no hurry to bring the real refs back. He has the replacement refs under his total control.” If that were true, I don’t believe one of “his refs” would profess his love for the Saints and guarantee to do what he could to help them.

Observer

September 24th, 2012
10:19 am

Both Oline and Dline playing well. When that happens in the NFL, good things happen. Both of the Falcons picks were on passes where a Falcon was in the face of the QB. And the OLine is giving Ryan time to throw. He is not getting ‘Bradey like” protection, but it is good.

Ueeediot

September 24th, 2012
10:24 am

“Goodell has made it his personal quest to destroy the Saints.”
Although, this would make Goodell my favorite person, Tom Benson has been at this job for much longer and has much more experience.
The Aints are reality imitating art. Ever see Major League? Benson has wanted to move this team to (anywhere) SoCal for years and years. His best chance was during that little rain storm a few years back but FEMA and the NFL forced him to come back from San Antonio. The plan was to just keep trucking west.

Dont worry taints fans. I know you have tickets to the game in November. My friends and I have some extra paper bags already cut and waiting for you.

Brown

September 24th, 2012
10:26 am

Love the 3-0 start! Love the performance of the Angry Birds defense so far! I can’t see the Falcons losing to Scam Newton next week, so a 4-0 start seems pretty likely.

Also, it was great seeing the Arizona Cardinals pounding Mike ‘WEED’ Vick for three hours. He looked totally lost out there.

Paddy

September 24th, 2012
10:27 am

Seen……You do know that the rest of the League is playing w/ replacement refs also? To suggest that the strike has not been settled because the League wants to punish the Saints is laughable. We all wondered what you might come back with today, but that was weak. You would have been better off giving it a rest for awhile until your team won a game. Come back refreshed and all that.

jimbo

September 24th, 2012
10:28 am

The “ugly” Saints fans need to start looking for the old paper bags again. We will be glad to send you a boxcar load from Atlanta. Start wearing them again so you can improve your appearance!!

Ivan

September 24th, 2012
10:28 am

Saints are 0-3

Vick increased his record turn overs.

Yea. I’ve seen that before.

Atlanta87

September 24th, 2012
10:46 am

Something has GOT to be done by the NFL.

These New Orleans Saints players are terrible.

Who Dat?

September 24th, 2012
10:46 am

I think the nail is finally in the coffin with the Aint’s. Maybe this will be the last we hear from those idiot for a while.
Falcon’s 3-0
Aint’s (with bag over head) 0-3

Choke's a joke

September 24th, 2012
10:47 am

Choke, it’s impolite to interrupt an adult discussion. Go back to your Michael Vick coloring book.

D man

September 24th, 2012
10:49 am

Seen, I feel bad for you today. I know how it feels because my Birds have let me down like that in the past. Every time I read one of your posts in past years, I thought to myself, it’s just a matter of time when Brees will get older and my Falcons will grow up and take over the division. That time is now but I won’t make you feel worse than you probably already feel by rubbing it in.

Esquire

September 24th, 2012
10:57 am

JSS

September 23rd, 2012
10:09 pm

Keeping feeding them opium, it makes the addiction harder to break… The stupidity level might actually surpass 2010…
*******************************************************
I’m certain you are the only one that knows what the heck you are talking about.

Time

September 24th, 2012
10:58 am

The Falcons looked great. I don’t know how you stop this team on offense. Too many weapons.

And is anyone else getting really tired of the media/announcers piling on these replacement refs. I know the leftist media types must back any union or face death by firing squad. But, between the idiot media looking for reasons to complain about the officials and the coaches and players thinking they can verbally, and now even physically, intimidate these officials. They are the problem. I’m sorry the normal refs are typical union workers who despite already being vastly overpayed, greedily want even more. That is no excuse for the media hit job on them. Any football fan without a biased interest in the outcome knows that yes, the replacement refs are making mistakes. But we also know the ridiculously overpayed and still wanting more old refs made plenty of mistakes themselves.

Goodell should just fire all the old ones and commit to this new bunch long term. Then start suspending anyone for berating and/or intimidating them. That would put a end to this nonsense quick, no matter how many elitist leftist media types cry about it.

Time

September 24th, 2012
10:58 am

The Falcons looked great. I don’t know how you stop this team on offense. Too many weapons.

And is anyone else getting really tired of the media/announcers piling on these replacement refs. I know the leftist media types must back any union or face death by firing squad. But, between the idiot media looking for reasons to complain about the officials and the coaches and players thinking they can verbally, and now even physically, intimidate these officials. They are the problem. I’m sorry the normal refs are typical union workers who despite already being vastly overpayed, greedily want even more. That is no excuse for the media hit job on them. Any football fan without a biased interest in the outcome knows that yes, the replacement refs are making mistakes. But we also know the ridiculously over-payed and still wanting more old refs made plenty of mistakes themselves.

Goodell should just fire all the old ones and commit to this new bunch long term. Then start suspending anyone for berating and/or intimidating them. That would put a end to this nonsense quick, no matter how many elitist leftist media types cry about it.

Who Dat?

September 24th, 2012
11:02 am

The Aint’s go marching out, the Aint’s go marching out. Oh how I love to see that train wreck, when the Aint’s go marching out.

Ice Ice Baby

September 24th, 2012
11:04 am

Who dat? who dat 0-3??? Ha Ha!!!

Esquire

September 24th, 2012
11:04 am

Seen This B4 September 21st, 2012 8:27 am

@Jimmy: You don’t get any points on the field of play if you catch the ball and the ground causes it to become dislodged. The rule in the endzone is different so as to remove any doubt. You have to maintain possession through the end of the play, including landing on the ground, cause six points are at stake. On the normal field of play, the reciever gets the benefit of the doubt, in the endzone, he has to earn it.
____________________________________________________

Note to SuxThisBZERO:

NFL Rule 8 Section 1 Article 3 Item 3

“The requirements for a catch in the end zone are the same as the requirements for a catch in the field of play.”

Just thought I would bring this to your attention…………..Dunce Hat.

Who Dat?

September 24th, 2012
11:11 am

Want to see how the Aint’s diehards really feel about their team. They’ve completely given up. I guess we really aren’t the worst fans after all. Check out their fan forum and read the laughable comments. http://saintsreport.com/forums/f2/

splendid splinter

September 24th, 2012
11:13 am

I tried to get in after the Broncos win but couldn’t. So I have several comments.
1) The Broncos and Manning got out-coached last week. To be able to confuse Manning after 15 or so years in the league is saying something.
2) The defense seems to be running a “jail-break” defensive scheme. The oppositions’ offense can’t figure who is playing where.
3) I never thought a change in the coordinators would make such a difference. This Falcons team looks like a different and much improved bunch from last year.
4) Some team will figure out how to combat both the offensive and defensive schemes eventually so the coaches will have to stay alert and nimble.
5) It is early yet and injuries always play a big part of a season. If Ryan got hurt and was unable to play for several games or the rest of the year, it would be devastating. So let’s stay real about the season expectations.
6) And finally – let’s not turn this thing into a JSS and Matt Choke Ryan blog. That’s exactly what they want. Ignore them and eventually they will go away.

Falcon Fan

September 24th, 2012
11:42 am

FALCONS 3-0. SAINTS 0-3. SEEN THIS B4

Falcon Fan

September 24th, 2012
11:44 am

TIME TO BREAK OUT THOSE OLD BAGS AINTS. LMAO………

JSS

September 24th, 2012
11:46 am

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Crazy talk to from a crazy person…

It always great to read what some phony savant prevails to say: “what they want.” This has always been and always be about what a team has or has not done. Of course, simple minds make it something personal. You can swing, spin, or distort that anyway you like. But in the end, that is all it is… And most of you are like the German when they finally beat the French for the first time back in 1870s. They aren’t satisfied with finally having a little success and building on it in the right way for the right reasons, enter visions of grandeur… And just like those delusions of grandeur, many of you are smelling your top lips again… All long distance runners know you rarely win a marathon in mile 5 unless your vastly superior… So, I’ll be around at 26 mile marker, you better pray (and that is always the case) you don’t fail… So keep being childish, not in the least bit deterred by it all.

JSS

September 24th, 2012
11:58 am

Esquire
September 24th, 2012
10:57 am

“JSS, I’m certain you are the only one that knows what the heck you are talking about.”

Here’s your reminder…
http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/2011/01/15/live-blog-if-falcons-win-it-could-be-super-bowl-dance/
http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/2011/01/15/falcons-embarrassing-loss-means-season-was-an-epic-fail/

Notice who did not blog that night… You can tell who the Johnny come lately fans/bloggers happen to be here…

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
12:00 pm

@Who Dat?
They are jumping off the Mercedes Benz Dome! HAHAHAHAHA!

JSS

September 24th, 2012
12:01 pm

Jeff Schultz, if you haven’t checked out for the observance yet, check your filter… Peace…

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
12:02 pm

mean little man is back!

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
12:05 pm

I am sure he is blocking your crap JSS

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
12:13 pm

Or we at least hope he is. JSS is a troll has whipped you good……..stay away, that is what everyone in here wants angry little man!

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
12:15 pm

And here you go with that gibberish again. MEDS!!! TAKE YOUR MEDS!!!!

JSS is a Troll

September 24th, 2012
12:32 pm

Wow, the song just remains the same with this guy, JSS the Troll, doesn’t it?

He is SO much better than all of us rubes. He is so much smarter. So much more awesome. So much, um, MORE.

I don’t know what’s more depressing: his constant need for self-validation about how much better he is than everyone else here to compensate for the miserable failure that was his own career, or the fact that his arrogant smugness seems to have no end.

This poor man. This silly, little, petty man. Read his words. See his disdain and hatred of all us “normals” that he is so far above. What kind of massive personal and professional failures have gone into creating a monster such as this? This is not a good guy. This is not a guy who is well-liked, and he can’t ever figure out WHY!

WHY he is avoided by coworkers. WHY he is the guy who gets downsized, when he’s obviously so much smarter than the stupid drones with which he works. WHY he never seems to get ahead when he is so brilliant.

Pity this poor, petty man, people. Pity him. Don’t be angry with him. Pity his out-sized ego and overdeveloped sense of his own entirely mediocre intelligence. Pity him for his broiling anger at all of us stupid normal people. What a sad waste of a life, for JSS the Troll.

Matt the Brave

September 24th, 2012
1:04 pm

Gee, we changed both coordinators and now we look like a true playoff team after three games. Coincidence?

Falconsfan0126

September 24th, 2012
1:07 pm

Why are you even on this blog if the Falcons are “gonna fail like this they always do”?

panic fan

September 24th, 2012
1:13 pm

Like to thank all of the folks on this blog for ? Many new names
same ol same but our team has changed so please refrain from the constant pain of this wonderful change GREAT START TO THIS SEASON

Dave

September 24th, 2012
1:28 pm

Even with less bite in his demeanor, it’s good to see my boy Chokiewohkie still typing his drivel…….

beefydolt

September 24th, 2012
1:36 pm

We still have not a clue about the end around run and the run up the middle for huge yards!
why is “beerman” not playing full time and why is Edwards still on the team?
What has happened to Dent..relagated to special teams?
Go birds..kick c.newton back to N.C.

Chilly Willy

September 24th, 2012
1:52 pm

It’s only week 3 people! You can still be a losing team at 3-13!! They better not get full of themsleves!!! THINK!!!

LOL at The Aints

September 24th, 2012
1:55 pm

DOLs “special needs kids”,, wow JSS,, thats not very tolerent of you,, you’ve raised Snarky to a whole new level,, of course your ole pal JS wont do anything about it,, just keep mentioning the observance,,

mt

September 24th, 2012
1:58 pm

Been a Falcons fan since Norm Van Brockin,Tommy Nobis and Randy Johnson,this may be the best I have ever seen them,even the Leeman Bennett years and also the super bowl year.

Esquire

September 24th, 2012
2:01 pm

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.

________________________________________________

Cheese, (may I call you Cheese for short?) you are confused with the Ravens quarterback.

JSS

September 24th, 2012
2:09 pm

No you inch high idiot stalker troll, not being “blocked” like your boy Falcon Jim was… More of your fantasies, it contains a link… That’s what happens some times… Crag on to something else obsessed..

Esquire

September 24th, 2012
2:13 pm

Falcons played a great game all around. Another fine outing by the O Line………..shout out to Sam Baker again…..ok, one sack on you, but still…..good game!!

LOL at The Aints

September 24th, 2012
2:14 pm

Wow,, someone has their panties in a twist today LOL,,

LOL at The Aints

September 24th, 2012
2:26 pm

Inch High Idiot,, ewww,, Sticks and Stones JSS,,, Sticks and Stones LOL!!

JSS

September 24th, 2012
2:33 pm

So LOL (among your many IDs here), In the girls department at the Dollar Tree again? So much for that cease and desist order I see…

Answer this

September 24th, 2012
2:46 pm

Looks like JSS is about to burst with anger…..angry little man! Lol. Tissue JSS….if JSS the troll gives you two more feet in your angus then you will really be in a tight! Get your Meds on man….your anger is showing like your inability to know anything about Falcon football! Lol.

Matty Bicep

September 24th, 2012
2:56 pm

JSS, it is only week three, if I did not know you have bear trap intellect and the nerves of steel necessary to fend off these evil bloggers, would think you might combust before thanksgiving…but stay strong, you are providing a priceless public service.

yep

September 24th, 2012
2:58 pm

Ryan is now an elite NFL QB. Everyone saw it coming except for the haters that refuse to give anyone credit. They’re just miserable human beings. The type nobody cares to be around.

A.B. Normal

September 24th, 2012
2:59 pm

“All of those Chargers fans who had claimed about a local TV blackout suddenly felt thankful.” Ummm . . . did they ‘claim’ or COMPLAIN?? Proofread fail!