Watching the Monday Night Football pregame show last night, there was a lot of discussion about the games that were played in Week 3, and in particular the best quarterback performances in the week. Ron Jaworski chose Vikings QB Christian Ponder as his quarterback of the week. Trent Dilfer, on the other hand, picked Matt Ryan for not only his Week 3 performance but his great play through the season up to this point.
I wish I had word for word what Dilfer said about Ryan, but it was glowing. There were, however, several things that did stick with me. Dilfer said that Ryan is playing with a lot of confidence this year, something that perhaps seemed to be lacking. He is extremely hot both on the field and statically, truly leading the Atlanta offense the first three games. And most importantly, Dilfer noticed that Ryan is taking that confidence and being extremely decisive. He “isn’t worried about what could go wrong on the back end of the play” and is doing everything he can to do his job, and let the other players do everything they can. Dilfer highlighted the goal-line fade to Julio Jones as a prime example of Ryan’s new-found decisiveness. Diler said “if you have a guy who can go up twelve feet in the air and catch it, throw it twelve feet in the air and let him go up and get it”.
The point is taken. It’s something that’s difficult to put into words. But it seems like when Mike Mularkey was still the offensive coordinator in Atlanta, things were focused on not throwing too much, and the team seemed to be paralyzed in fear about turning the ball over. Not so much an indictment on Ryan, but on the mindset of the Falcons coaching staff, and Mularkey in particular.
With new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, it seems like he is unleashing Ryan, and we are seeing everything he can do. He is allowed to not just have very conservative passing options or run plays; instead the game is in Ryan’s hands to make things happen.
Ryan has always had the ability to make these throws and do these things in football games, but until this season he had his hands tied as far as what he could do. Now he has increased freedom, and we can see just how good Ryan can be, just how high his ceiling is. Suffice it to say, that ceiling is very high.