It is no secret that Matt Ryan is struggling this year, and things do not look to get any easier. The upcoming schedule features a road trip to the NY Giants, followed by home dates against Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. The 5-4 Falcons could find themselves 6-7 after this run (I’m assuming they go 1-3 during this run, beating the Bucs).
According to the NFC South Blog at ESPN
Throw out last week’s win against a horrible Washington team and Ryan wouldn’t have completed more than 57.6 percent of his passes in any game since Oct. 11. On that date, the Falcons went out to San Francisco and trounced the 49ers, 45-10. In the five games since, Ryan has thrown 10 interceptions and seven touchdowns as the Falcons have gone 2-3.
I don’t believe in sophomore slumps, but I do believe that until the Carolina loss, the Falcons lost on the road to New England, Dallas, and New Orleans, all teams at the top of their respective divisions. In truth, Atlanta’s schedule has been brutal. They are the only team that has 4 games against teams coming off a bye week, which makes this weekend’s trip to play the Giants so depressing. NY has not been playing well, but they had a week off to get healthy and prep for Atlanta.
Speaking of not being healthy, how long is Turner going to be out? Just when he got things going again, he went down with an ankle injury. Turner actually had 111 yards on 9 carries in the second quarter before hurting his ankle. Norwood has missed 4 games, and I actually think he has been missed much more than publicized. As a kickoff returner he always has a chance to break a big one. As a change of pace back his speed always gives opposing defenses something to consider. Even with the emergence of Snelling, Norwood gives the Ryan something that no one else offers – pure speed for quick dump off safety net gains.
So back to Ryan. What is wrong? I think they need to get back to play action, deep throws, and some shorter routes. Tony G. gives them everything they need in the middle, intermediate game, but the absence of Norwood has all but removed short passes from the playbook. With receives like White and Jenkins, Ryan should throw deep passes several times a game to take advantage of White’s ability and Jenkins’ size.
The Carolina loss was critical; I think it knocked Atlanta out of the playoffs. I know it is early to call that, but as mentioned above the remaining schedule is brutal. At this point I want them to play for a 9-7, which would get the “no consecutive winning seasons in franchise history” monkey removed.