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Matt Ryans diary on fox sports

Big Duke 6

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The Dolphins brass of GM Jeff Ireland, head coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Dan Henning asked me a question and, for the first time in my life, I really had no answer. None! I was stunned.

2007 stats: Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
Boston College


It was one of the hardest questions I've ever been asked, and I honestly didn't know how to tackle it. Everything that had been asked of me in the endless interviews, the psychological exams and the non-stop questions from the scouting combine until now seemed to all mesh together.

Nothing too tough. Disappointingly, nothing too crazy. But this one ... this one was different. I was honestly stumped. Great question.

The last time I checked in with you guys, I was getting ready for my big Pro Day workout. By now most of you who are interested have read about it or heard about how it went, and I will get to that in a bit. I'll start with events that haven't been publicized and kept pretty much on the down low.

Matt Ryan left speechless? How'd that happen? (Winslow Townson / Associated Press)

Since that Pro Day I have had two personal workouts for teams the Jets and the Dolphins and as we're doing this I'm preparing for a workout with the Chiefs on Thursday. I have another visit to Kansas City coming up next week before a personal visit with the Falcons, followed by the Ravens in what should complete the circuit.

That question I alluded to at the top of this column took place during my visit with the Miami hierarchy. They traveled to Boston for their personal workout lunch, a throwing session, an interview session and a classroom session. But before I get there, let's lead up to that question the one question that stopped me in my tracks.

The Pro Day? Went as I would have expected, and I thought that was going to be the end all of everything ... until I had my personal workouts. In the Pro Day workout at BC, I threw 52 passes and felt like I got into my groove, my rhythm, about five or six throws in. That's what happens to me in games, too. Once I hit my first five or six passes, I start to feel like I've clicked and from then on out I feel like I can sail through anything. It could be the last pass of a game, a Hail Mary if I feel hot early, I'll feel hot until the very end.

But the Pro Day turned out to be a warmup for the real work. On the Thursday night before Good Friday, I had dinner with the Jets and I have to tell you, I totally clicked with their offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. What a great coach, great offensive mind, and he just has this thing about him that puts you at ease and makes you immediately feel like he's on your side trying to get you better. I was really impressed with how relaxed he makes you feel.

While I threw 52 passes at my Pro Day, the Jets had me make about 65 to 70 throws in a little over an hour. Maybe we should have planned better because due to the timing of the Jets and Dolphins workouts one was on Good Friday while the other was the day after Easter we had no wide receivers in town. But we more than made due. I had two very talented tight ends in John Loyte and Trey Koziol, and two running backs who both run routes like a wideout, Andre Callender and L.V. Whitworth. Even with no true wideouts, we didn't lack at all for guys who can get downfield and haul in passes.

The difference between the Jets workout and the Pro Day was the Jets wanted me to make throws and reads within their schemes. They wanted to see first-hand what balls I can throw from within their offense. They especially wanted to see my footwork in the pocket and had me make several throws on the move. They wanted to see where I could put the ball when I was forced to move out of the pocket.

I was as happy with the performance as I was with my Pro Day, but I got to throw on the run a bit more and show off my arm when under pressure and my footwork a little bit more. I loved it.

The Dolphins came on Monday, and they were different from the Jets. They too had me throw for them, but the real work started when we got into the classroom. Ireland and the Dolphins group had pretty much dissected my career to a T. They popped in film of the good and the bad and asked me to explain what I saw on certain plays and what I was thinking when I made my decisions. They were trying to get a gauge of what went through my mind when I saw certain things unfold on the field and why I either made a decision that paid off and why I did something stupid out there. We all do some stupid stuff at times, and sometimes it's warranted and other times we just take the heat.

They then picked my brain on the blackboard and asked different things about our protections at BC and our reads. But they also asked me to re-identify blitzers and the MIKE (middle linebacker) after a defense shifted.

But despite the throws and the classroom and the interviews and meetings, that Dolphins interview brought about that fateful question. I've since had time to think about it some more and it is by far the most difficult question I've ever been asked in this sport. The question came ... and I had no logical answer. Certainly nothing prepared me. The question: "If you don't make it in the NFL, what is it that got you to fail?"

You have to understand the mind of any competitive athlete, any successful athlete. Failure? I've never anticipated it. Never believed it was ever an option. It's honestly difficult for me to comprehend because in order to succeed, you have to visualize making that pass, throwing that TD, standing in there for that one final millisecond. There is no room for failure to make its way into your mind.

That pretty much became my answer. If I was ever to fail, it wouldn't be because I wasn't incredibly prepared. If I will fail it's because of something unforeseen, something I have yet to experience. I will work my butt off to make sure I succeed. There won't be any shouldas, couldas, or wouldas with me. I feel I have the talent to succeed, and I have no idea why I would fail, so I couldn't give a specific answer. For that I am thankful, yet humbled by the question and even the fact that they make you think about failure.

Maybe there is something out there a great unknown that has certainly swallowed up other top prospects. I don't know what it is. Don't want to know, don't want to meet it. Don't need to fight it. Call it the ignorance of an athlete, but I don't mind living with that question and never finding an answer.

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