It’s almost hard to believe that in seven seasons in the NFL, Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback Matt Ryan has only won a single postseason game.
That is something he certainly wants to and needs to overcome heading into his age-30 season. As of right now, the three-time Pro Bowler and 2008 No. 3 overall pick has looked better than ever in 2015. It is only the preseason, but with new Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan running the show, Ryan has looked more comfortable.
Through two games thus far this preseason, Ryan has completed 10 of 11 pass attempts for 161 yards and two touchdowns. On Friday night against the New York Jets, Ryan led Atlanta’s first-team offense to two touchdowns on his only two drives under center.
The Falcons’ offense was efficient totaling 81 yards on 10 plays and two touchdowns, including a six-play, 85-yard touchdown drive on the first drive which was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Terron Ward.
The other touchdown was a two-yard reception by Leonard Hankerson, who is destined to be the No. 3 or No. 4 wide receiver this season now that he is fully healthy. Fullback Colin Mooney hauled in the biggest play of the night on a 60-yard catch where star wide receiver Julio Jones was able to clear the way for him as Mooney beat the linebacker
“As an offense, we had a short field and were able to punch it in,” Ryan told Falcons.com. “It was a good start for us tonight, but across the board, we got a lot of areas to improve. We will get back onto the practice field this week and correct some of those things.”
Following games against Tennessee and New York this preseason, Ryan owns a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He has thrown a touchdown over his last three preseason games dating back to last year.
“I think right now, it’s that competitive fire he has. He’s always looking to improve,” first-year Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “He’s just wanting to come and attack in all phases. He’s like that in practice with his mindset of going and wanting to attack. He’s really feeling it in terms of his familiarity with the offense where he has ownership of it, and he certainly does.“
Ryan owns a 91.1 QB rating in his career going 66-44 in 110 starts. He hadn’t suffered a losing season until his sixth-year (2013) but over the last two years, the Falcons have gone just 10-22 with him as the starter. Ryan is signed through the 2018 season as he is set to make $62.25 million in base salary over the next four seasons.
Injuries and bad defense were to blame, but Ryan knows this team can be better this season.
His backups haven’t fared well this preseason. T.J. Yates, who is expected to be the main backup to Ryan, has completed 17 of 30 passes for 183 yards and two interceptions. Third-year Duke product Sean Renfree has hit on 16 of 21 pass attempts for 162 yards.
The hope for the Falcons is that Ryan can stay healthy for the entire season which wouldn’t be a shock to anyone as he’s missed just two starts (both in 2009) in his career.
Atlanta’s offense will have to carry this team with a strong running game and high-flying passing attack with Jones and Roddy White. The defense will be improved, but if the Falcons want to make the postseason it will be on the backs of their offensive unit.
Solid play from Ryan and the first-team offense this preseason has the arrow pointing up in Atlanta.