During NFL training camps and the preseason, we'll be taking some looks at the local reporting to see what stories the hometown papers and fan blogs are saying about their teams. Today, the Atlanta Falcons and the expectations on quarterback Matt Ryan.
The Atlanta Falcons are built to excel in the passing game. They have vet Roddy White at one receiver spot and second year man Julio Jones on the other side. They're both excellent, and that's thanks in no small part to fifth year QB, Matt Ryan.
The Falcons are 0-2 in the preseason after losing to the Bengals last night, but that means nothing. The more important numbers to think about are how good the first team has looked when they're on the field. They've been crisp, and Ryan has completed 79 percent of his passes in his limited playing time.
Ryan has been accurate and his two game totals of 27-34 for 329 yards and 2 TDs is a sign that he and the offense are hitting on all cylinders.
The Atlanta Constitution-Journal asked Ryan after last night's game if he thought he deserved to be in the discussion of the elite QBs, but Matty Ice wasn't interested in taking the bait.
It doesn’t matter what I think or what anyone else thinks. It matters how we win. That’s where my focus is. Other than that, I don’t really worry about it too much. I don’t think about it. I don’t worry about it.
Ryan would have been totally okay if he said hell yes, he should be in the conversation, but his answer was solid. He's a team first guy and that's what you want out of your QB. Besides, future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez said it for him anway.
He’s always been a really, really good player but I think he’s starting to make that jump to becoming a great player and one of the upper echelon players in the league,” Gonzalez said. “I think that comes with maturity and the simple state of mind offense that [new offensive coordinator] Dirk [Koetter] brought in here coupled with the players he has around him.
That is music to ears of Atlanta fans, who have been teased the last couple of seasons with flashes of greatness, only to see them flutter in the playoffs. Last year's 24-2 loss the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants was particularly rough. But now there's renewed optimism, but as Dave Choate points out on thefalcoholics.com, the team is lacking solid backups.
The depth, however, remains a legitimate concern. The backups are simply going to have to play better, because there will be situations in the regular season where by injury or fatigue the reserves are going to come in. If they're getting scorched by third string wide receivers and quarterbacks, that's not just alarming. It's a friggin' klaxon going off three inches from our collective ears.
So Atlanta has to hope for an injury free year. That's rare and unlikely.
The Falcons kickoff the regular season Sept. 9th at Kansas City.