Matt Ryan Looks To Bounce Back From His “Sophomore Slump”

September 7, 2010 – 10:15 am by timgunter

The Atlanta Falcons are coming off of back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history but hope they can add another first this season, a Super Bowl XLV victory in Dallas.   At the start of every season each team has the same goal of winning the Super Bowl, but most teams, realistically do not have a chance.  With a solid, young group led by an emerging superstar, Matt Ryan, the Atlanta Falcons have a legitimate shot at winning this year’s Super Bowl.  If the Falcons are to make an extended playoff run and win, Ryan must bounce back this year after taking somewhat of a step back last season.

Last season, Ryan uncharacteristically struggled in reading defenses at times, but he didn’t show signs of panic or of a damaged psyche.  He has all the traits to become an elite passer in the NFL.  He has a strong, accurate arm, athleticism to move in and out of the pocket, and he shows toughness and poise with bodies around him.  His most significant quality is his football IQ and ability to anticipate throwing lanes.  Ryan didn’t always trust what he saw last season, but it is almost certain he has already learned from his mistakes because he continuously studies game film.  The Falcons’ offense is coming together just fine this season.  Roddy White was in camp the entire time as opposed to last season when he was holding out.  Michael Turner is slimmer and trimmer and looks to bounce back from a down ’09 season, and Harry Douglas returns to slot after missing all of last season with a knee injury.  Ryan is going to show that he is an elite quarterback this season and that the Falcons are for real in 2010.

Matt Ryan joined WFXJ in Jacksonville to talk about what he thinks about the talent level on this year’s team, what he thinks about his offensive line and on the notion that they are one of the nastiest bunch in the NFL, and whether having the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints in the same division is a good thing for them.

What he thinks about the talent level on this year’s team:

“You know what, I do.  I feel good about the guys that we have, we are confident.  I think offensively, we have got some real weapons, Roddy White on the outside, Tony Gonzalez back, Harry Douglas back from injury, Mike Jenkins is going to help us out when he gets back, and then you add in Michael Turner with the run game that is huge.  Then defensively, I think we really improved a lot.  We have got some good leadership from Dunta Robinson, who is new for us this year, and Curtis Lofton continues to be, in my opinion, a great  player in the NFL.  I feel good about our guys and our team.”

What he thinks about his offensive line and on the notion that they are one of the nastiest bunch in the NFL:

“They do, they are kind of the identity of our football team, those 5 guys up front.  They are tenacious, they are relentless, they play to the whistle every snap and it really gives us an advantage, I think when you have guys who play like this week in and week out it certainly gives us a chance every time we step on the field.”

What Mike Smith is like as Head Coach:

“Smitty, he is a great head coach.  He is a great communicator.  He does a great job of being upfront with the guys and everyday expecting you to come in and work hard.  He does a great job at getting that across to his players and I think guys respect that and we have enjoyed playing for him the last couple of years.”

What he thinks about the importance of the “check down” pass in the NFL:

“I think defenses have become so disciplined in their zone coverage that they drop out and get underneath kind of deeper routes down field in passing situations.  They do that so well that you are forced to kind of get the ball to your check downs, but with that said, when they do drop as deep as they do having the patience to come back to your backs and putting the ball in those guys’ hands in a good position for them to run with the ball after the catch really is an important part of the NFL right now.  Like I mentioned with you when we sat down and watched tape, we watched a lot of New Orleans and Drew Brees does a great job of taking chances and being aggressive throwing the ball downfield and they certainly have their fair share of explosive plays from those types of things that I would argue that they are equally impressive with their explosive plays checking the ball down to Reggie Bush and a short little pass in zone coverage can really be an explosive play.”

His thoughts on him being able to slow the game down a little bit and being more comfortable this season:

“You know what, I feel really good having been in the same system now for year 3 and having had a ton of game experience really having gone through every situation you are going to be through.  I feel confident and I think we have had a really productive camp, we have gotten better this offseason, we have continued to have gotten better through training camps so my level of confidence is high right now so we are ready to get started.”

Whether having the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints in the same division is a good thing for them:

“No question about it, New Orleans was the best team in the NFL last year and we feel like we have played them tough twice and a couple of plays here or there and we come out on top of those games, but that gives us the confidence to know that we are right in the mix of some of the better teams in the NFL.  Now we have to go out there and make those plays.  We need to improve in the situation where we had chances last year and we need to take advantage of those chances.  I feel confident that guys like that challenge of having the Super Bowl champs in the division.”

Matt Ryan on WFXJ in Jacksonville with Pete Prisco

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