Ryan says performance against Packers ‘not good enough’

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Caption
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on his play in the 30-16 loss to the Packers and how the can rebound.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

Matt Ryan stepped up in the pocket as he felt the pressure approaching from the Packers' defense. Ryan’s offense faced a fourth-and-10, with the Falcons trailing by 14 points with under four minutes left to play in the game. It was a desperation moment as Ryan hoped to tighten the game with a touchdown.

Ryan moved up and to the right just as he saw receiver Calvin Ridley open in the end zone. Ryan cocked back his arm while on the move and let the ball rip Ridley’s way.

ExploreWhat Matt Ryan said of the loss, 0-4 start

The ball, however, was thrown a little too late and behind Ridley who was forced to stop running and wait for the ball to arrive. By being forced to stop his route, Packers safety Adrian Amos caught up and knocked the pass down at the last second.

That defensive play halted any chance of a late Falcons comeback in Green Bay’s 30-16 victory Monday night.

Afterward, Ryan was asked to assess his performance on a postgame video conference call with reporters. Ryan finished the night 28-of-39 passing for 285 yards, but was without a touchdown for the first time in four games.

“Not good enough,” Ryan said. “I didn’t get the job done. Ultimately, that’s all that matters.”

When Ryan does not toss a touchdown pass, chances for the Falcons to win decrease. The last time the Falcons won a game without Ryan accounting for a passing touchdown came in an overtime victory against Washington in 2015. Since that game, the Falcons are 0-7 when Ryan fails to throw for a touchdown. Three of those losses came in 2019.

Against the Packers, Ryan completed 72% of his throws, but averaged only 7.3 yards per attempt. Heading into Week 4, Ryan was averaging 7.5 yards per attempt, which ranked 21st in the NFL. Ryan, as he has been for the most part of the season, was accurate underneath in Green Bay. But when it came to the more aggressive shots downfield, Ryan wasn’t as fortunate.

On their opening possession, the Falcons faced a third-and-6 from the Falcons' 29-yard line. Ridley ran a double move, but the ball didn’t leave Ryan’s hand in time. Ridley juggled the ball, with safety Darnell Savage getting a hand in to disrupt the play. On the Falcons' next series, facing a third-and-6 from the same spot at their own 29-yard line, Ryan dialed up a deep pass to Ridley over the middle of the field.

Ridley was able to gain separation against cornerback Jaire Alexander, but Ryan’s pass was thrown too far, with Ridley unable to make a play underneath it. On a play-action pass intended for tight end Hayden Hurst in the second quarter, Ryan aired the ball out well past Hurst and closer to the three Packers defenders in coverage.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn was asked about Ryan’s night, but didn’t directly answer the question. Instead, Quinn said the game plan was to be aggressive on offense and take some deep shots down the field. Unfortunately for the Falcons, the big splash play in the passing game was a rarity.

“We wanted to be aggressive and bold,” Quinn said. "We took some shots, and we didn’t come down with them. That was certainly part of the plan, to be aggressive and going for it. As it gets down into the red zone, we were going to take our shots on third down and even fourth down to stay in rhythm to do that.

“When we got behind, I thought we had a chance to come back out in the second half, get a stop, get right back into it. That didn’t happen and you’re playing behind. Those are always the toughest ones.”

Ryan said the struggles on offense started early. Opening with two three-and-outs -- with both of the incomplete deep throws on third down playing a part -- didn’t help matters. Ryan didn’t pinpoint one specific issue, saying vaguely that there were multiple reasons why the offense was unable to gain consistent traction.

Regardless, Ridley finished the game without a catch. Receiver Julio Jones, who entered the game with a hamstring injury, was unable to play in the second half. Jones finished with four catches for 32 yards. Receiver Olamide Zaccheaus led the way with eight catches for 86 yards.

One area Ryan specifically lamented was third-down production. In the first two games of the season, against Seattle and Dallas, the Falcons combined to convert 15 of 31 third-down opportunities. Over the past two weeks against Chicago and Green Bay, the Falcons have converted only seven of 25 third-down chances.

The Falcons went 3-of-12 on third downs Monday night.

“We need to do a better job of converting on our third-down opportunities to keep ourselves on the field,” Ryan said. “There are a lot of things that go into that. We have to be more efficient on second down to give ourselves a better look on third down. But we have to be better on third down.”