Matt Ryan on pace to pass for 5,000 yards

The Falcons should be happy with their frequent-flyer points, as they definitely have traveled by air this season.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is on pace to pass for more than 5,000 yards and is just off the pace for breaking the NFL single-season passing mark.

Ryan and the Falcons (3-4) will attempt to take the air show on the road when they face the surprising Washington Redskins (5-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md.

Ryan leads the NFL in passing yards per game (333.6). He’s on pace to pass for 5,338 yards, which would leave him 139 yards shy of the single-season mark of 5,477, which was set by Peyton Manning with Denver in 2013.

“I think there have been some good things for me personally in the first half of the season,” said Ryan, who has completed 71.1 percent of his passes. “There are some things that can be better.”

Ryan, who won the league’s MVP award after the 2016 season, when he passed for a career-high 4,944 yards, is aware of the pace that he’s on.

“I don’t worry too much about it,” Ryan said. “My focus is more just week to week, preparing and kind of wrapping my mind around the opponent that we are going against.”

Ryan also passed for 4,719 yards in 2012.

The Falcons’ passing attack centers around wide receiver Julio Jones, who has 812 yards receiving on 53 catches. To the dismay of fantasy football players, he doesn’t have a touchdown catch.

Tight end Austin Hooper is developing nicely in his third season in the league. He has 33 catches for 321 yards and two touchdowns.

Rookie Calvin Ridley has 27 catches for 392 yards and six touchdowns. Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu has three touchdown receptions, and running back Tevin Coleman has two.

“Anytime you think of Matt Ryan, you think of explosive plays,” Washington coach Jay Gruden said. “They’ve got the weapons all across the board. Julio and Sanu, and obviously the rookie Ridley is playing extremely well.”

The attack starts with the quarterback.

“Matt is a great quarterback,” Gruden said. “A great competitor.”

Hooper spent a great deal of time over the offseason working out with Ryan.

“He’s done a tremendous job at decision-making, reading defenses and putting a lot of different guys in a very advantageous situations,” Hooper said. “That’s just a credit to the work that Matt has done all year. He keeps it going.”

Ryan has been there to help Ridley along, too.

“He’s been great,” Ridley said. “He’s a real leader. He takes his job, very, very serious. He puts in the work.”

Center Alex Mack believes that Ryan and the offense can continue to thrive.

“We have a lot of really good playmakers,” Mack said. “We can really open up the field and stretch it. That really helps our offense be effective. It gives (the defense) a lot of ground to cover. We can move down the field fast and make it difficult for defenses.”

There’s no question who’s in charge of the operation.

“Matt is a great player,” Mack said. “Matt is an awesome teammate. An awesome player. He’s always working hard. He’s really in tune with what he needs to do. He’s really detail-oriented and demanding of his team. I think that makes everyone around him better.”

If the Falcons can get the running game going, Ryan likely would be even more effective. The Falcons are averaging 83.3 yards rushing per game, which ranks 30th of 32 NFL teams.

“We’re kind of in the mix,” Ryan said. “At this time of the year, that’s where you want to be. You want to be in the mix and continue to get better. I think we are a better football team right now than we were at the start of the season, and that’s going to be important as we move forward, continue to improve and get better.

“We have to string the wins in along the way.”

The Falcons are going to need Ryan’s arm against the Redskins and their stingy run defense.

“They are big and physical in the front seven,” Ryan said. “Their scheme kind of allows them to … eat up space.”

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