QB corner: Ryan prepped for another playoff showdown

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Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan asked for us to respect his privacy and didn’t want to discuss why he missed practice for a ‘personal matter.’ Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan missed a day of practice to attend to a personal family matter.

He was back at practice on Wednesday, preparing the Falcons game against the Eagles in the NFC divisional playoffs at 4:35 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I was able to get the game plan and get the information that I needed,” Ryan said. “I’ll be very well prepared for the game on Saturday.”

Ryan carried the Falcons to the playoffs as a rookie and in three of his first four years in the league. However, the Falcons were 0-3 while the young Ryan was trying to do battle against Arizona’s Kurt Warner, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and New York’s Eli Manning.

In the those three losses, Ryan threw just three touchdowns and had four interceptions.

Ryan finally has some success in 2012 and reached the NFC title game before making it through to the Super Bowl last season. Since the bumpy start, Ryan is 4-2 in the playoffs with 16 touchdowns passes, three interceptions and a passer rating of 119.1.

After the win over the Rams, Ryan has a 102.4 postseason passer rating in his career.

The only two qualifying players with a higher rating are Pro Bowl Hall of Famers Bart Starr (104.8) and Warner (102.8).

The Falcons will be counting on Ryan to help lead them past the Eagles, who will start their backup quarterback Nick Foles.

However, the Eagles have s stout defensive front.

“I think the one thing that is consistent is that they are very good in the front seven,” Ryan said. “The front four is very aggressive. Jim Schwartz has always been that way. Great penetrating type defense.”

Ryan, who completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards and had one touchdown pass in the wildcard round win over the Rams, believes the Eagles defense will be tougher.

“Their linebackers have great speed,” Ryan said. “I think they are playing very well in the secondary.”

The Eagles raced out to a 10-1 record before quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending knee injury. They went 2-1 down the stretch and earned the top-seed for the NFC playoffs.

“They’ve had a great season,” Ryan said. “They’ve played extremely well. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

The Eagles beat the Falcons 24-15 last season. The Falcons went on to win the NFC South and claim the NFC title.

Ryan is not sure that he can learn much from the previous meeting.

“From the scheme, we will take from that game what went well and what didn’t go well,” Ryan said. “We’ll try to improve on that. We’ve had like 25 games between since we played them. We are a different team than we were at this juncture last year. They are a little bit different team as well.”

Ryan is playing with his fourth offensive coordinator in the playoffs.

For the early years, it was Mike Mularkey, who was followed by Dirk Koetter for the 2012 run. Kyle Shanahan was the coordinator last seaon.

Steve Sarkisian is the current offensive coordinator.

“I think it’s continue to get better,” Ryan said of his relationship with Sarkisian. “The more time that you spend with each other, the more time you go through games and situations come up, you really get a feel for people in live game action. I think we know each other a lot better. I think he’s done a great job or learning who we are, what we have and how to utilize it.”

Ryan isn’t blaming his slip from 38 touchdowns passes to 20 touchdown pass on Sarkisian.

“Each year is different, even though you had a lot of guys back, years shake out differently,” said Ryan, who won the MVP in 2016. “Sark has done a great job of finding who we are week to week, specifically the last two weeks, he’s done a great job.”

Sarkisian has been open to Ryan’s input.

“Absolutely, he’s got really good ideas and has implemented some new things for us,” Ryan said. “Some different things for us. I feel like I’ve been around a long time too with a number of different coordinators and have some good ideas as well. He always been open to that. But I think it’s been a good collaboration. We’ve worked very well together.”


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