Matt Ryan on the Falcons: ‘We’re close to 12 or 13 wins’

Matt Ryan tells Dunta Robinson: "We're this close to a title." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Matt Ryan tells Dunta Robinson: "We're this close to a title." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Flowery Branch — Almost nothing went wrong for the 2008 Falcons, and they went 11-5. Almost everything went wrong for the 2009 Falcons, and they finished 9-7. This tells us something. This tells us the team that might have been seen as a flash in the pan has, if you’ll excuse the Teflon-esque imagery, real sticking power.

“We feel like we’re a lot closer to 12 or 13 wins than we are to eight,” Matt Ryan said Saturday. “Last year was frustrating because we didn’t make the playoffs, but you always want to be in the mix. You always want to be playing for something, and really until the last three weeks we were.”

Ryan spoke after the morning session of Day 2 of minicamp. He seemed relaxed, which wasn’t all that remarkable — there’s not much tension in minicamp — but it represented a slight departure from last season. The NFL’s next Golden Arm wasn’t quite as golden in Year 2, and there were moments when he grew more defensive than we’d become accustomed to seeing from the affable Matty Ice.

His interceptions were up. His completion percentage was down. His quarterback rating was down. He didn’t have a bad year by any means; he just didn’t muster  immediate improvement on his otherworldly rookie season.

Part of it was inevitable. The 2009 schedule was a fright: Of the Falcons’ seven losses, five came against playoff qualifiers; the other two were against teams that finished 8-8. As underwhelming as the season might have seemed, only three losses came by more than 10 points, and the worst beating — the 34-7 loss to Philadelphia — came on a day Ryan didn’t play. And yet two weeks later the Falcons, in Ryan’s gimpy return, beat the Jets, who would play for the AFC title, in the Meadowlands.

“Those losses were tough,” Ryan said. “We won a lot of tight games, too, but it was frustrating to lose three or four games in a difficult way. And within those games, it comes down to small things.”

Things like interceptions. Ryan threw 10 in a five-game span — he had thrown 11 in 16 games the season before — and his team lost three of those games. He would be intercepted only twice thereafter, both of those in the season finale at Tampa Bay. And that was more like it.

Even now, Ryan isn’t willing to say he was disappointed by what he did in 2009. “I thought I made strides,” he said. “I had to deal with some things. The biggest thing in my mind, what’s even more important, is that I need to be more consistent. I have to pay greater attention to even the smallest of details.”

Given that Ryan was never one to cut corners, isn’t it hard to focus even more precisely? “Ironically, no,” he said, and then he laughed. “I’m used to grinding. I always feel I can be more efficient. I’ve tried to get better at my offseason training. I’m trying to understand when I need to push myself and when I need to rest. I’m always trying to keep it fresh.”

How will the 2010 Falcons fare?

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A visitor noted that Ryan appears not to have been distracted by the extraneous issue of getting a haircut. The aerodynamic look of 2009 has been replaced, at least for the moment, by a shaggier — not to say shaggy — look. “I know,” Ryan said, smiling. “My mom’s been all over me about it.”

Speaking of whom: His mother is home in Philadelphia, and Matt Ryan will be otherwise occupied this Mother’s Day. The Falcons have gotten into the habit of scheduling minicamp for Mother’s Day weekend. But Ryan is a quarterback, and he can see the whole field. “I’ve already sent flowers,” he said.

Looking further ahead, he’s asked what he foresees for the 2010 Falcons. Twelve wins? “No predictions from me,” Ryan said, laughing again. “But 12 or more wins sounds good.”

Note the wording — 12 or more. If last season was as bad as it’s going to get for these Falcons, what’s ahead could be really, really good.

114 comments Add your comment

Dr. Warren

May 8th, 2010
1:45 pm

Why even waste time with talking? Just do it on the field. Seeing is believing. And by the way, first???

atlfan44

May 8th, 2010
1:46 pm

falcons bounce back and get 11 wins and the nfc south

Dawgs2010

May 8th, 2010
1:52 pm

Perhaps if he had a little time to throw. He cannot take us to the next level when his face is being smeared into the turf and a thug cruching on his ankles.

D. Bell

May 8th, 2010
2:02 pm

If the running games is any better that last year, the opposing defense won’t be able to focus on the pass as much, and Ryan will suddenly look much better. The blocking point above it valid too.

dr.maryb

May 8th, 2010
2:02 pm

It will be very interesting to see how the defensive side of the ball – comes out of mini-camp!

Will the unit gel, and embrace their perspective roles – or – will they even know their roles at that point.
The sooner that is established, then I feel the individual players can key in on their jobs!
And look like a pro on the field! I want to see some professional FOOTBALL!

A season where the privledged few acually appreiciate their opportunity to play this silly game for a whole lot of money. And do it with passion & more importantly do it the hard-working – everyday – FAN!

Dr. Warren

May 8th, 2010
2:03 pm

Though I will note, in a league where a franchise was foolish enough to pick Jamarcus Russell, who played quarterback more like Nipsey Russell, the Falcons did their homework and scored with Ryan.

leland

May 8th, 2010
2:11 pm

Dear Mr. MB–I think you made all that up. I mean Ryan saying that about 12 or 13 wins. Anyway, it does seem like something imminent is about to happen. Your pal, Leland

Dr. Howard Dr Fine Dr Howard

May 8th, 2010
2:16 pm

A lot (two words, not one, kids) depends on Turner’s health. I have the nagging feeling we used him up in 2008. It’s hard to put 400 carries on a running back in a year and have him be the same ever again.

[...] [Falcons] Falcons QB Matt Ryan Forsees 12 To 13 Wins In 2010 Almost nothing went wrong for the 2008 Falcons, and they went 11-5 but almost everything went wrong for the 2009 Falcons, and they finished 9-7. "We feel like we're a lot closer to 12 or 13 wins than we are to eight," quarterback Matt Ryan said Saturday. "Last year was frustrating because we didn't make the playoffs, but you always want to be in the mix. You always want to be playing for something, and really until the last three weeks we were." The 2009 schedule was a fright: Of the Falcons' seven losses, five came against playoff qualifiers; the other two were against teams that finished 8-8. As underwhelming as the season might have seemed, only three losses came by more than 10 points, and the worst beating – the 34-7 loss to Philadelphia – came on a day Ryan didn't play and yet two weeks later the Falcons, in Ryan's gimpy return, beat the Jets, who would play for the AFC title, in the Meadowlands. "Those losses were tough," Ryan said. "We won a lot of tight games, too, but it was frustrating to lose three or four games in a difficult way. And within those games, it comes down to small things." Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution [...]

Doctor Doctor

May 8th, 2010
2:20 pm

Can’t you see I’m burning burning

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Bradley and Hank Humphrey, Anastacia Maldonado. Anastacia Maldonado said: THIS IS THE YEAR!!!! RT @MarkBradleyAJC: Matt Ryan on the Falcons: ‘We’re close to 12 or 13 wins’ http://bit.ly/dqzAyz [...]

Shane

May 8th, 2010
2:36 pm

Get ready for the Vick vs Ryan vs Flacco insanity comparisons.

DawgDad

May 8th, 2010
2:42 pm

I’m agreeing with the 12 wins or more assessment, but this is the NFL and the players, coaches, and fans should never take anything for granted. Every win must be battled out and won on the field, and injuries often tilt the scales substantially.

This team is not a front-runner, but it is solid overall and the expectations should follow accordingly. I see an NFC Championship or Super Bowl as stretch accomplishments; it’s a must for this team to make the playoffs barring debilitating injuries.

I’m really pumped up for this season. There’s so much to like about this team and the players and very little negativity. Should be a real joy ride. But even looking at potentially 12+ wins this season, the future looks even brighter. The core of the defense is very young and very talented. A focus on offense in the upcoming draft should keep that unit primed. This has all appearances of a team on a run with staying power.

TheManMike

May 8th, 2010
2:53 pm

Troy Bergeron looked sharp at the end of the first practice this afternoon. As did Ryan. Nance appears to have strong legs, and came maneuver.

Anyone know who the kid with the thick red dreads is?

I got a nice fist bump with Mike Smith before he walked off too.

Tom

May 8th, 2010
3:16 pm

12 or 13 games??? Believe it when I see it.

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
3:28 pm

Turner will be fine, he’s no where near ‘used up’. A team has to stretch the field with some long passes and get those 3-4 defenses on their heels, to help the running game. The Falcons didn’t do a whole lot of that at the beginning of the 2009 season, against the 6 or 7 teams that use the 3-4, they faced to begin the season.
Turner had over 140yds. with only a couple of minutes played into the 2nd quarter, when the Giants went after his ankle last year, in the game that they knocked him out for the rest of the season.
A lot of there potential for success depends on the O-line, that is for sure.

Reid Adair

May 8th, 2010
3:33 pm

I can see them being close to 12-13 wins. When you consider all of the injuries in 2009, and the fact that they still posted nine wins with the strong schedule, it’s not out of the question at all.

RomeDawg

May 8th, 2010
3:33 pm

As a life long Falcons fan I can only hope that there isn’t some bad omen waiting. The last time I felt this good about the Falcons, Mike Vick tried to carry a water bottle of weed through airport security.

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
3:35 pm

They will defeat the Saints twice in 2010, and 3 times if they face them in the playoffs.
Saints have had their day in the sun, and I don’t think the officials are going to give them as many calls in their favor, as they did last year. Cinderella don’t live in N.O. anymore.

Whopper Dawg

May 8th, 2010
3:36 pm

I am ready to see some of the defensive draft choices produce. Big year for the D and BVG. Three years in, over 65% of the drafts, 17 players, have been devoted to defense. Those 17 players have produced 2 starters. We need to play much better D this year and get more out of our starters.

papadawg

May 8th, 2010
3:36 pm

9-7 last year with numerous injuries to starters on both sides of the ball. Yeah I can believe they can win 12+ games with the new guys and everyone stays healthy but still need to beat the Saints & not sure if they can do that.

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
3:37 pm

@ 3:33pm — Please don’t bring that name up. Thankyou.

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:37 pm

Win 12 or 13 games !!!
Man, that’s even funny than the stuff that goes back and forth between UGA & GT fans. I think I wet my pants from laughing so hard

Birds win the NFC South

May 8th, 2010
3:39 pm

And the Saints caint do $hit about it!

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
3:39 pm

papadawg, they can and will beat the Saints. Went down to the wire with last year.

Birds win the NFC South

May 8th, 2010
3:43 pm

Is the Saints’ schedule as convenient as last year’s? You know, with them playing the big teams NOT after bye weeks and NOT on the road?

WHO DAT not makin’ the playoffs? LOL

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:45 pm

Hate to say it to guys knocking the Saints, but they won the big game that counted. Not the Falcons. I’m not a Saints fan by any means, but you need to give credit where credit is due. Falcons had their shot at the Super Bowl and laid an egg.
They’ll be lucky to 8 games this year!

Birds win the NFC South

May 8th, 2010
3:48 pm

I give credit … to the refs and the NFL agenda. Congrats, Saints!!

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:50 pm

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
3:50 pm

The Saints and the Zebras won the Super Bowl for N.O. in 2010. But they Aint going to win the 2011 SB.

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:51 pm

Can Someone say SOUR GRAPES!

Saints fan with a small penis

May 8th, 2010
3:52 pm

Hey, we won and you didn’t. GET OVER IT!!!!!

papadawg

May 8th, 2010
3:52 pm

RT get your head from where the sun never shines. They are better than 8 wins and I think you are a wishful thinking Saints fan

TED

May 8th, 2010
3:52 pm

“The Saints and the Zebras won the Super Bowl for N.O. in 2010. But they Aint going to win the 2011 SB.”

NEITHER WILL THE FALCONS!

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:54 pm

Sorry papadawg – No Saints fan here. I’ve just heard this same song and dance for over 30 years now. They have to show me some consistancy first. “Believe it when I see it”

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
3:54 pm

Saints won’t be a favored team this year, Sour Grape.

Doctor Doctor

May 8th, 2010
3:55 pm

RT, keep posting. I’ve got a fiver on you being able to construct at least one sentence with proper grammar before the season starts.

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:55 pm

Who is favored?

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:56 pm

“fiver” NICE!

Doctor Doctor

May 8th, 2010
3:57 pm

It’s a gambling term imbecile.

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
3:57 pm

Falcons will win the NFC South and beat the Saints 2 times in 2010.

RT

May 8th, 2010
3:59 pm

What ever makes you happy there DR DR
I’d love to see the Falcons beat the Saints twice. I’m just tired of all the talk that comes out of that camp. That’s all it has been, is talk!

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
4:01 pm

How often does a team get scheduled to play 4 teams coming off of their bye weeks in one NFL season? Come someone tell me?

papadawg

May 8th, 2010
4:02 pm

RT I watched Tommy Nobis play on those dreadful teams from beginning to now but I’m more encouraged now since our present owner (Arthur) seems to want to win unlike the previous Cluster F___ ownership as Clint would say. In the old days with all the injuries of last year they would have quit and only won 7 games. They were outmanned but still played their butts off so that’s what’s encouraging about this year

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
4:04 pm

In the old days they would have been lucky to win 1 or 2.

RT

May 8th, 2010
4:05 pm

SHO-NUFF: OK I understand your point about the bye weeks. My point is that they had to go through the same road during the playoffs as the other playoff teams. They got to the big dance and won it.
I guess I have “SOUR GRAPES” because of all the years I use to listen to the talk come out of that camp just to end up being nothing but hot air. I just want them to show us before talking about it.
They had the talent last year to go a lot further, but choked. It just gets old! A disgruntled fans opinion.

RT

May 8th, 2010
4:07 pm

papadawg – The old days of the “Grits Blitz” were awesome. Much more excitement. I have not seen that fire in the Falcons for many moons!

RT

May 8th, 2010
4:08 pm

Doctor Doctor – my guess is that you lost that bet (fiver) because I constructed one good sentence… (just ribbing you)

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
4:09 pm

I really would like to know how often a team is scheduled with that many teams coming off byes.

SHO-NUFF

May 8th, 2010
4:11 pm

Would you rather the talk coming out of the camp be as negative as your comments here?