A weekly examination of the Falcons' quarterback play.
Rewind: Matt Ryan came out blazing against the Dolphins on Sunday, completing 8 of 9 passes and throwing a touchdown on the Falcons’ initial drive of the game. Ryan was 15-of-17 in the first half as he got the ball out extremely quickly. But then his protection seemed to let him down as the game wore on, although Ryan was not sacked in the game. He finished 23-of-38 for 231 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-23 loss. Ryan’s final pass was an interception as a result of getting his arm hit by Dolphins pass-rusher Dion Jordan.
Fast-forward: The hype surrounding Sunday night’s game against Tom Brady and the Patriots should be a little added motivation for Ryan. But Ryan doesn’t seem like the type to get caught up in individual matchups. He has to worry about running the offense more efficiently against a capable Patriots defense. Ryan also needs his playmakers to make plays. Julio Jones has been his typical self, but Roddy White’s slow recovery from a high-ankle sprain is noticeable.
A running Ryan? We’re not saying that the Falcons should switch to the read-option or anything of that nature, but maybe they should consider using Ryan's legs more in those goal-line situations. Spreading the defense out with the threats of Jones, White and Tony Gonzalez should leave a hole right up the middle. And Ryan is athletic enough to get to the end zone from a reasonable distance -- provided his linemen get a block on somebody.
Prediction: Ryan didn’t go down the field much against the Dolphins, probably because he was more concerned with getting the ball out quickly based on the offensive line issues. But you can bet in a prime-time game at home, Ryan will test the Patriots' secondary with a deep ball to Jones. Remember, Ryan and Jones connected on an 81-yard, catch-and-run score against the Rams.