Who knew Matt Ryan was old school?
The reigning NFL MVP plans to pull out his collection of spiral notebooks and go over his notes to get ready for the Chicago Bears.
The Bears, who are coming off a 3-13 season, are coached by John Fox. Chicago’s defensive coordinator is Vic Fangio, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers.
Ryan faced Fox several times during his head coaching days in Carolina and Denver. Fangio was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco when the Falcons lost to them in the NFC Championship game after the 2012 regular season.
“Both of those guys we played against a number of times throughout my career,” Ryan said.
Ryan, who has a team-issued iPad, keeps meticulous notes from all of his games. He is going to flip through the pages of his notebooks looking for tips.
“Our offense was probably a little bit different at that time, too,” Ryan said. “So the way they defended us would be a little bit different. I certainly have notes from all of that stuff that you’ll just scan through and take a glance at to see what were some of the things that might come up.”
Ryan, 32, is set to enter his 10th season in the league.
“I’ve got a pretty good collection,” Ryan said. “I don’t know how many games, but there is quite a few.
“Some are in binders. Different years have different notebooks. The notebook game has come a long way, too. They are more durable.”
Ryan doesn’t plan to “go digital” with his notes anytime soon.
“I’m old school,” Ryan said. “Me and (Matt) Schaub are like dinosaurs in our room. Can’t adjust to the iPad just yet. I’ve just done it the same way for a long time. We’ve got an iPad with our playbook and stuff on it, but most of my stuff is in a notebook.”
Ryan started writing down his plays and notes in high school at Penn Charter in Philadelphia.
“Same thing I used in high school,” Ryan said. “It’s one of those five-star like five (subjects) notebooks.”
Ryan is 5-4 in regular-season openers, 1-1 under coach Dan Quinn.
Back in 2008, Ryan won his first season opener against the Detroit Lions. His first pass in the NFL went for a touchdown to Michael Jenkins. The Falcons went on to post an 11-5 record and make the playoffs.
Last season, the Falcons lost to Tampa Bay 31-24 at the Georgia Dome. They went on to an 11-5 record and reached the Super Bowl.
In 2011, the Falcons opened in Chicago against the Bears and were steamrolled 30-12. They went on to make the playoffs at 10-6, but were eliminated in the playoffs by the New York Giants, who called the Falcons’ linemen “dirtbags” leading to the game.
“Probably, the first one is the only one I really remember,” Ryan said. “They kind of run together, but the first one your rookie year is special. It was a great win for us at home at the old Georgia Dome. That was a special one for sure for me.”
Ryan and Quinn sensed the energy in the building as the team started to work on its first game plan of the season.
“There was a certain energy as you walked into the building,” Quinn said. “Then the process begins for us. The new outlook in the team meetings, this is the group and you see changes and this new view of where we are headed.
“For me, personally, going through this for the third time, I feel more comfortable.”
The Falcons don’t plan to take the Bears, who finished in last place in the NFC North in each of the past three seasons, lightly.
“I think that’s probably the biggest thing in all 10 of these that, you know, the one constant is that you’re excited for the season to get started,” Ryan said. “There is anticipation for this game probably unlike any for the rest of the year.”
Oh yeah, and we will see a repeat of that first NFL pass to Jenkins?
“Hopefully, we can get that going again this year,” Ryan said. “First pass for a touchdown would be nice.”