A veteran NFL scout summed up Matt Ryan’s showing Thursday night with a few simple words.
“Matt looked bad,” the scout said. “No poise.”
No, Ryan wasn’t on the top of his game. Neither was the offense, as a whole. The dress rehearsal for the Atlanta Falcons’ first-team offense concluded with Ryan completing 12-of-22 passes for 129 yards, no touchdowns, an interception and a passer rating of 53 in a 17-6 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The interception occurred in the red zone on third down from the Dolphins’ 8-yard line. Ryan was targeting Jacob Tamme, but it turned into an easy pick for safety Reshad Jones. It looked like a flashback to last season, when Ryan threw four red zone interceptions.
In Weeks 6 through 9, Ryan generally struggled, throwing more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (6), was sacked 10 times, and had an average passing rating of 65.5. Still, he led the Falcons to two victories in the four games, in part thanks to Michael Turner returning to the form of 2008.
In Week 12, Matt Ryan suffered a turf toe injury during the game against Tampa Bay. Chris Redman stepped in and managed to win the game by connecting to Roddy White for a touchdown in the 4th quarter. Following this victory, however, the effect of Ryan’s absence was compounded by injury to starting running back Michael Turner, and the Falcons suffered losses to both Philadelphia and New Orleans in Weeks 13 and 14. In Week 15, Ryan returned, despite not yet having fully recovered from his injury, and led Atlanta to a 10–7 upset win against the New York Jets.
In Week 16, the Falcons defeated the Buffalo Bills in a 31–3 win. Matt Ryan threw for 250 yards with 3 touchdowns, two of them to Roddy White. In the last game of the season, the Falcons defeated the Bucs 20-10.
With a record of 9–7, the Atlanta Falcons attained back to back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Ryan finished the season throwing for 2916 yards with 22 TDs, 14 INTs and a quarterback rating of 80.9. Ryan also rushed for 49 yards and one touchdown.
Matt Ryan walks off the Falcons’ steamy practice field and drops into his seat in the shade with an exaggerated groan. As if practicing in the Georgia heat weren’t hard enough, the nine-year veteran and three-time Pro Bowl passer also had to contend with his own offensive coordinator in coverage. Kyle Shanahan nearly broke the internet when he jumped in front of a Ryan pass floating toward the end zone — the ensuing “interception” was a preseason gift for the ever-ready army of trolls. (Relax, everyone, the coach was actually teaching his rookie tight end about route depth.)