Matt Ryan is 0-3 in the postseason during his four-year career as the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. His most recent loss to the New York Giants, a 24-2 drubbing in the Wild Card Round two weeks ago, highlighted the inconsistencies of his play at the quarterback position, and the flaws of the Falcons team in all facets of the game for that matter. Atlanta’s season came to an unceremonious and uninspiring end following a solid, albeit far from spectacular, 10-6 regular season in which Ryan threw for 4,177 yards and 29 touchdowns. None of that will be remembered though, just his embarrassing performance at MetLife Stadium where it seemed like Ryan was never able to get his team going in either half of play.
This was a team last year that moved up 21 spots in the draft to grab a difference making wide receiver in Julio Jones. Did that help the Falcons move closer to a Super Bowl? The results were the same. Another year without a playoff win. Now it’s back to the drawing board for the Falcons without the typical lot of draft picks thanks to what they had to give up in order to draft Jones. The criticism is beginning to fall on the shoulders of Matt Ryan and rightfully so. Ryan is a smart quarterback who’s played efficiently, but at the same time it seemed like the Falcons were afraid to dial it up against the Giants. There comes a point where just being effective won’t cut it for Ryan and the Falcons, and for good reason, fans are beginning to wonder if enough time has passed to effectively rule him out as a truly franchise savior type quarterback like a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or a Aaron Rodgers.
Matt Ryan joined 790 The Zone in Atlanta with Mayhem in the AM to talk about the Atlanta Falcons season ending in the first round of the NFC playoffs three or four weeks before they hoped it would in Indianapolis, the Falcons inconsistent play all year long, being bounced out of the playoffs so quickly after so desperately wanting to get off the snide and win a playoff game as the team’s starting quarterback, isolating himself from criticism that has been thrown his way since the playoff loss, and playing the quarterback position without fear every play.
This exit interview is probably 3-4 weeks earlier than you wanted it to be?
“Absolutely. It didn’t really end the way we wanted it to. We really didn’t play our best football in the playoff game, but again we ran into a football team that was playing very well. New York had a great game against us and then this past weekend played really well.”
The inconsistencies plagued you all year long?
“Yeah I think we started off a lot slower than we would have liked to. We kind of picked it up and started to play a little bit better and then those inconsistencies crept up in the playoff game and it was one of those things – we just never really got it going. We played well at times and we had a good season, but we just never really got it going. We never really tapped into what I think we are capable of doing.”
You’re in the game against the Giants and then quickly you’re out of it. Does it feel like it’s over so quickly?
“The finality of the playoffs is unlike anything I had ever been a part of. That’s the hardest part. It’s difficult because it’s just done. It’s really harsh. That’s the deal. You have the expectation that you are going to be back into work that Monday. You are going to be watching film of the team you are playing next. You are going to be wrapped in all the things that you are getting prepared to play a game. Then after you lose you have nothing to do. It’s hard to deal with and that’s why it stings so much. You know you are that close. You know that if we had won just a couple of more games we’d have an opportunity to achieve what we really wanted to.”
How much do you isolate yourself following a loss because the criticism comes fast and fierce?
“Absolutely. That’s the nature of the NFL. That’s what makes wins so great though too, but…I good or bad…I try to keep things in perspective and not pay too much attention to everything that is being said. One of things I have learned in the short time in the NFL is that you can’t worry about everything that is being said. There’s such great attention paid to everything that we do and the only thing that matters is trying to focus on trying to do your job well.”
We keep hearing the word ‘cerebral.’ Is there a point where you have to stop thinking about arm strength, extending plays and just go out there and let it rip?
“Yeah absolutely. There’s been examples of that. Julio Jones is going to help us be better in that direction as a team and me personally there comes a point where you have to take some shots and throw it down the field, but you have to trust your guys to make plays. I think we need to get better at that for sure.”