Falcons’ Matt Ryan: ‘I thought our guys battled upfront’

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan took a little longer to get to the postgame podium. He probably had to ice down a bit after getting sacked five times and hit another 11 times in the 30-17 loss to the Bucs on Sunday.

Here’s what Ryan had to say after the loss:

On not getting in the end zone after the first drive and how that impacted the game: “That’s tough. Obviously, [we] had an opportunity there on the goal line and not to come away with seven points is one of those things we’ve got to do a better job of as we move forward. When you’re playing against a good football team, a really good defense, really good offense that can score, you know you have to come away with touchdowns. That part was disappointing for sure. But we kept battling and gave ourselves more chances. Which is what you have to do. You can’t blink. But if we’re looking for areas of improvement, that’s definitely one of them.”

On staying on schedule and how that has improved over the past two weeks: “I do think we ran the ball well. The first drive of the game was really good. And we continue to hammer away at it. I thought our offensive line, running backs did a nice job with that. And it helps. It opens other things up and it helps in that area. I do think we made strides. We’re getting better. Now, we’ve got other things that we got to clean up along the way. But that was productive for us.”

On his teammates expressing confidence and whether he shares that confidence: “I think you have to. I think we’re in a spot -- obviously, disappointed with the outcome of today’s game. This is a really good football team. I really think there were chances for us to kind of change the outcome of that game. We’ve got to be opportunistic as we move forward. But we have everything we want right in front of us. And ultimately, this time of the year, that’s really all you can ask for. Now it’s about figuring out how to play our best football in the next five weeks. I don’t think you can get too far down the road. You really have to focus on the next week and find a way to get a good divisional win on the road.”

On balancing confidence with knowing you need to improve: “You always want to have self-belief. And at the same time, you got to strive for daily improvement. That’s one of those things Art [Arthur Smith] talked about in the first meeting that we had. We’ve got to get back to work, we’ve got to seek that growth this week and really work on that during practice. And at the same time, know that there are plays that are being made. There are things that we are doing well. And we got to build on those. We have to make more of those types of plays throughout the game and I think we’re capable of doing that.”

On struggling to sustain drives in the second half: “We had spurts, but the consistency wasn’t there. I think we were very consistent the first couple of drives of the game. take away what we did not scoring a touchdown at -- on the goal line. But I think there was better consistency there early. And we’ve just got to find ways to keep drives going and then finish drives when we get our chances. [We] can’t give them anything. I think there were a few plays today, a few opportunities that we all have to find a way to make those plays when we get those chances.”

On Russell Gage’s fumble and how that impacted the game: “Well, I thought our defense did a nice job after that and then getting another stop and then giving us another opportunity to still go down there and take the lead. It’s hard. Those kinds of things happen at different times. Are they inopportune? For sure. thought Russ bounced back and did some really good things for us and coming back in late, he toughed it out there at the end and I appreciate him for that. There are things we’ve got to clean up for sure. And we’ve got to -- we really -- when we have our explosives and we make our plays, we’ve got to capitalize on those drives. And I think if we’re going to be successful moving forward, those are going to be the things we have to do.”

On the botched snap on the goal line: “That’s just an execution thing we both have to be better at. Across the board, there’s just no excuse for it. And so, we’ve both got to do a better job of that.”

On whether he changed any of the plays at the line of scrimmage: “No, those were the calls. We’ve got to find a way to make those plays, got to find a way for something to come open. But, really, I mean it’s, first and second down, you still have opportunities on second and third down. We had a penalty there, as well. We really had four chances and we’ve got to find a way to make a play. And even with it not being ideal, we still had a chance on third down. Regardless whether it’s first down, second down, or third down, we’ve got to find a way to punch it in.

On why the team has struggled to finish drives with touchdowns consistently as of late: “I don’t know. I think we’ve done some good things, for sure. But we’ve got to get back to work. We’ve got to find the answer to that so that -- in our stretch of the last five games of the year of the regular season, we’ve got to find a way to be better. If we had the answer, we’d change it immediately. But we’ve got to find a way to do it.”

On how he maintains confidence despite not getting the desired results: “There’s been good. I always view confidence probably differently than you guys. I think that it comes down to how you work during the week, how well you are prepared going into a game, what’s your practice week look like, your film study look like, what’s your preparation with the plan. In professional sports, it’s tough. Because if you’re only deriving confidence from results, it’s not going to go your way. Does our production need to be better? Absolutely. But the belief has to remain the same as we prepare during the week that we’re going to make those plays when we move forward with chances.

On the pass protection: “We’re going against a good defense, a good front seven. And we knew going into it, it was going to be tough sledding. It’s important, you try to protect the ball as best you can, stay on schedule to eliminate some of those opportunities. But I thought our guys battled upfront. I really did. I thought they played hard.”

On whether he gets tired of congratulating Tom Brady after games: “We’d like to win (Laughing). We’d like to win. That’s for sure. You know, but -- we’ve got to find a way, in the division to win football games. Whether it be against Tom, the Carolina Panthers coming up this week, we’ve got to find the way to get the job done in the division. Those games are always critical and they count basically one and a half as you’re going. I’d certainly like to beat him. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve got to focus on what’s in front of us and then we’ll figure out that whole deal the next time we play them.”

On how Arthur Smith has handled the difficult moments this season: “I think his messaging has been consistent from the start of what he expects from us. I think the guys have bought in and done a great job of that, of trying to do what they’re asking us to do. We all need to play better. We all need to find more ways to win games than we have up to this point. As far as from a leadership standpoint and being consistent with the guys and keeping the messaging the same and every day trying to get better and trying to get the best out of guys, he’s been very good at that.

On whether there is one moment in particular that he can speak to: “Well, I think it’s all year. I mean, it’s about kind of not riding that roller coaster of being consistent, not getting too high. In some of the wins that we’ve had, we’ve had some really good comeback wins, some stuff that you should be proud of, for sure. I think he’s done a great job of kind of navigating that roller coaster that can be the NFL season of staying consistent, focusing on the next objective, getting back in, making corrections. Whether we win or lose being objective and being honest on Mondays. And then coming in with great energy on Wednesdays for what the plan is for us moving forward. I think he’s done a great job of that.”

On the balance between getting guys a certain number of touches and feeding the hot hand: “I mean, that’s for the staff. I think they work really hard at getting guys going, getting guys involved. I think an explosive run for us that was basically the next play, I think it was Mike [Davis] that came in for the next run. We’ve got complete trust in both those guys to go out there and execute what we’re asking them to do. But I think it falls on the coaches to find a balance of keeping guys fresh. Which is what you want for the fourth quarter, keeping their juice flowing and making sure, you know, that they’re not overworked. But I think they’ve struck a good balance of that. Because CP’s [Cordarrelle Patterson] production has been great.”

On Kyle Pitts performance and why he wasn’t as productive in the second half: “I think Kyle is doing a great job. It’s just how the game shakes out sometimes and the coverages that are called. They see that, too. And they make adjustments to try and take away some of what he’s doing. He’s got to stay the course. Kyle’s done a great job in his rookie season of hammering away week in, week out, trying to get better. I thought his route running was really good today. And I tell our guys all the time, the ball is going to find you at different times. But when it’s your time, when your number is called, you’ve got to make that play. And he’s done a good job of that this year.”

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Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Falcons 27, Saints 25

Cowboys 43, Falcons 3

Patriots 25, Falcons 0

Falcons 21, Jaguars 14

Next four games

Tampa Bay at Falcons, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

Falcons at Carolina, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12

Falcons at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19

Detroit Lions at Falcons, 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 26

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