Matt Ryan: ‘There are tons of things we can do better’

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan discusses getting ready for the short week, Tampa Bay's defense and if rookie tight end Austin Hooper is ready to start for the injured Jacob Tamme. Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan believes the offense can continue to soar in the second half of the season.

The Falcons are off to a 5-3 start and Ryan has completed 193 of 279 passes for 2,636 yards for 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. He has a passer rating of 115.8.

The Falcons lead the league in scoring (32.8 points per game) and total offense (425.3 yards per game), but Ryan wants more.

“There are tons of things we can do better,” Ryan said. “If anybody is content of if anyone thinks we are where need to be, they need to change their attitude and get out of that mindset because we can absolutely be better than we’ve been up until this point. We need to better moving forward.”

Here’s what else Ryan had to say on Tuesday:

Q: What are some of the challenges of the short week?

A: "We got off to a good start (on Monday). I think the most important thing is to get your rest Sunday night after the game…When you get in here on Monday you had to flush that last game out of your system and start getting focused on the Bucs."

Q: How has Kwon Alexander been developing as a second-year linebacker for Tampa Bay?

A: "I think he's playing at a really high level. I certainly know that from both times we played against them last year. Earlier this season, he played extremely well in the first game of the season when we played them. So, I think he's playing really well. He continues to get better in their scheme. He's extremely athletic and very, very fast. He does a great job of shedding blocks. I think he's a really good player."

Q: How has (rookie tight end Austin) Hooper developed?

A: "I think Austin has done everything that we've asked of him this year. As a rookie, he's come in and he's played a lot of snaps for a young guy. I think his snaps have kind of increased week-in and week-out which is always good to see. He's a guy that has been getting better for us. His personality is conducive to playing well early. He's laid back and nothing is too big for him. He goes about his business during the week. He gets prepared and then just goes out there, cuts it loose and plays. I've been impressed with him early on."

Q: How did Terron Ward do stepping into the backup role at running back?

A: "Terron has been awesome for us for two years. He played a lot for last year and was extremely productive. I think this year was his first time active. He helped us out a bunch in that game. He made some critical plays for us. I think he had a huge run, a third-down conversion and in the tight red-zone he got the ball to the 1-yard line for us. He's a reliable guy. He's a guy that plays older than he is. Sometimes you forget he's a second-year guy because he's so calm and composed when he goes out there. He plays with great leverage and he's extremely physical. He's a perfect utility guy to be able to plug in there and do anything for you."

Q: How can you all get the run game established against the Bucs? (Tampa Bay held Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to a season-low 42 yards rushing in the season opener.)

A: "It comes down to the details. I think in the first game, we had a good scheme. We just probably didn't execute it as well as we are capable of. I think we've improved as an offense since that game. I think we've gotten better specifically in the run game and the pass game. It comes down to blocking better than we did the first time all across the board. They put a lot of stress on you because they have such athletic linebackers who shed blocks really, really well. It's going to be a big challenge to stay on those guys, if we can, we think we can run the ball."

Q: Does it surprise you that you guys are 3-0 when Julio (Jones) has three catches or less?

A: "I would say yeah because I had no idea. To me, that speaks to the depths of our offense and our team. It also speaks to what people are trying to do to eliminate Julio. I think I said it after the game, I don't ever recall that every snap that we took he was double-teamed. When that happens other opportunities, single opportunities come up for other guys and I think that record speaks to other guys stepping up and making plays."

Q: Do you feel like you are playing your best football of your career so far this season?

A: "I think I've done some good things for sure. In certain situations, I've done some good things. But it's like anything, there is always better out there. At the end of the day, stats and all that stuff don't really matter. It comes down to whether or not you did your job. Whether or not you helped your team win. For me, that's my focus every week. I'm trying to do my job and do whatever I can to help us win."

Q: Are you more comfortable with going through your reads in this offense?

A: "I think so. I obviously feel comfortable within our scheme and with what we are doing. I think (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) has done a great job this year of putting us in good situations to be successful. I've felt good out there and feel like we've done some good things early on."

Q: Do you see still a lot of room to grow within the offense this season?

A: "Absolutely, when we watch the film, there are tons of things we can clean up. There are tons of things we can do better. If anybody is content of if anyone thinks we are where need to be, they need to change their attitude and get out of that mindset because we can absolutely be better than we've been up until this point. We need to be better moving forward."

Q: In what ways has left tackle Jake Matthews progressed this year?

A: "He's come a long way since coming in as a rookie. First and foremost, he's been healthy this year for the most part. (Falcons coach Dan Quinn revealed Monday that Matthews was battling with a back injury that he suffered in the third exhibition game last season. We'll have to go back and check the injury reports, now.) I know that he's dealt with some things in the past and that's tough. I feel like he's been out there and he's played physical. He's done a great job both in the run game and the pass game. His athleticism is the number one thing that jumps out to me. When you watch him in space and getting out in front of people…he is as good as anybody. I'm proud of Jake. He's done a great job."

Q: Is there a little extra confidence, knowing that he’s got your blind-side covered?

A: "I've trusted Jake since he got here. He's done a great job for us in pass protection and in the run game."

About the Author