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Falcons have to decide best approach with Ryan


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Falcons have to decide best approach with Ryan

August 22, 2008 12:00 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

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Start him or sit him? That's the question facing the Falcons when it comes to Matt Ryan.

Picture a scale that's perfectly balanced.

That's what the Atlanta Falcons are looking at as they prepare to make one of the most important decisions in franchise history. On one side, they've got the quarterback who gives them the best chance to win on opening day. On the other, they've got the quarterback who gives them the best chance to lose.

Problem is, it's the same guy on both sides. It's Matt Ryan.

He's the third-overall pick in this year's draft. He's the guy with a contract worth $72 million over six years. He's 23 years old and already the face of a franchise before ever taking a snap in a regular-season game.

He's also a major dilemma for new coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff as they try to rebuild a franchise that may be as close to an expansion team as we've seen since the Houston Texans surfaced in 2002. Deciding what to do with Ryan could be the most critical decision Smith and Dimitroff ever make.

Start him or sit him?

There really is no middle ground. Unless something truly dramatic happens in Friday night's preseason game against Tennessee, the original plan to let things sort themselves out isn't going to make the decision totally obvious.

Smith and Dimitroff, who never have been in this spot before, are going to have to sort things out on their own. If training camp has shed any light on their quarterback quandary, it's that Ryan is more physically talented than veterans Chris Redman, who was out of the league two years ago, and Joey Harrington.

If history has shown Smith and Dimitroff anything, it's that guys like Ryan can turn into guys like Harrington if you don't play your cards right. Take the case of Harrington, who the Detroit Lions took with the No. 3 pick in the 2002 draft. A talented prospect out of Oregon, Harrington got thrown into the lineup of a bad team almost from the start, throwing 50 interceptions in his first 44 games with the Lions.

Harrington got booed out of Detroit and seems to never have recovered. Or take the case of David Carr, the No. 1 pick by those expansion Texans in the same draft. Behind an expansion offensive line that never got any better, Carr took a beating and still was suffering from shellshock when he got a fresh start with the Carolina Panthers last season.

"You think about all that and we know the history," Dimitroff said. "We know the players who haven't worked out at that position and you keep that in the back of your mind. But if that player is the right person, you go forward and you don't hesitate."

Over the last quarter of a century, Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger are the only two rookie quarterbacks who have turned out to clearly be the right person immediately. But that may be only because they came along at the right time. Marino had instant success with Miami and Roethlisberger won right away with Pittsburgh.

But the Dolphins and Steelers they joined were already good teams. The Falcons aren't. Atlanta is coming off a disastrous 4-12 season in which coach Bobby Petrino quit late in the year. Before that, franchise quarterback Michael Vick went through a legal drama that ended with him in federal prison for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring.

In some ways, that might have made the path a little easier for Ryan. Expectations aren't very high and the fans in Atlanta might have a little extra patience for their quarterback.

Then, there's Ryan himself. Watch him on the practice field or go back to his film from Boston College and there's little doubt he has the physical skills. Sit and talk to him for a few minutes and it's obvious he has poise and maturity.

"It's up to the coaches to decide what they want to do," Ryan said. "I'm just going out there and trying to get better every day."

Smith and Dimitroff have to be tempted to just go ahead and make Ryan their opening-day starter after a strong training camp and a sharp opening to the preseason.

"I've always felt strongly about making sure you have some tools on that offense to take some of that pressure off a new quarterback," Dimitroff said. "You've got to have a good offensive line, good receiving corps and an accomplished running attack. If you have those pieces together, I think you have a solid chance of moving forward with a rookie quarterback at the helm."

The Falcons have a promising young receiver in Roddy White and they signed the best running back in free agency (Michael Turner). The offensive line isn't a strength by any means, but the Falcons did trade back into the first round to draft left tackle Sam Baker to protect Ryan's blind side and that's a start.

But is all that enough to leave the Falcons comfortable starting Ryan right away? A rough rookie season could set an ominous note for the rest of his career. Throwing Ryan in too soon could turn him into the second coming of Carr or Harrington and the Falcons are taking that into consideration.

"I think you always have to look at the history," Smith said. "But you also have to take the information from what you see and what your gut tells you and what your coaching staff tells you. We'll listen to all that and make a decision on what's going to be best for our football team and what's going to be best for Matt."

One way or the other, the Falcons have to tip the scale.

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if you get into a game, get sacked, get hit, face adversity and youre too soft to handle it (ala carr or harrington) you dont deserve to be the QB.

im sorry but i dont beleive that Carr or Harrington was a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and the only reason they suck now is because they were on bad teams. the colts were nothing special when Manning came, he turned that franchise into what it is by providing a great QB to build around.

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I think we should compare our situation to the rookie Manning led Colts back in 1998.

We got a great QB with all the intangibles and enough physical abilities to be the next Peyton Manning, and a pretty bad overall team with some nice talent at a few key positions.

Just saying, we have a much more obvious core of talent than yous ee on an expansion team. We have people who are definite NFL caliber starters, where an expansion team is absolutely nothing but rookies and players other teams didn't want.

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Don't shoot the messenger. I just posted in case anyone wants to take a look.
Not shooting you. Unless you wrote it, which I don't THINK you did, did you?

:D

Yeah man, I didn't mean to rip on you, it just seems there are two topics on this board - the QB situation and John Abraham's shortcomings.

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UNCFalcon Posted Today, 04:34 PM

QUOTE (Lowndesfalc @ Aug 22 2008, 11:27 PM)

Don't shoot the messenger. I just posted in case anyone wants to take a look.

QUOTE (Rockford @ Aug 22 2008, 11:30 PM)

Not shooting you. Unless you wrote it, which I don't THINK you did, did you?

Yeah man, I didn't mean to rip on you, it just seems there are two topics on this board - the QB situation and John Abraham's shortcomings.

Its all good bro. When I see articles that haven't been posted (about the Falcons) then I will usually put them out there for all to see. :D

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Just saying, we have a much more obvious core of talent than yous ee on an expansion team. We have people who are definite NFL caliber starters, where an expansion team is absolutely nothing but rookies and players other teams didn't want.

Exactly. I dont recall the Texans having a Turner, Norwood, Ovie, White(coming into his prime), Abe, Brooking, Grady and Boley. We do have a lot of rookies, like an expansion team. But we also have some pro bowl caliber vets, as well.

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I'm all for sitting him. I dont wanna get him killed this year so he loses confeidence.

True, if our OL was playing as bad as the "experts" have predicted them to. But so far, our OL is looking solid and Ryan seems to get rid of the ball fast. Much faster than Joey. A lot of the problems we had with the OL last season, was due to injuries and Joey holding on to the ball too long.

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if you get into a game, get sacked, get hit, face adversity and youre too soft to handle it (ala carr or harrington) you dont deserve to be the QB.

im sorry but i dont beleive that Carr or Harrington was a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady and the only reason they suck now is because they were on bad teams. the colts were nothing special when Manning came, he turned that franchise into what it is by providing a great QB to build around.

good post man, ive never thought of it that way to be quite honest.

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Falcons have to decide best approach with Ryan

August 22, 2008 12:00 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Linkage

Start him or sit him? That's the question facing the Falcons when it comes to Matt Ryan.

Picture a scale that's perfectly balanced.

That's what the Atlanta Falcons are looking at as they prepare to make one of the most important decisions in franchise history. On one side, they've got the quarterback who gives them the best chance to win on opening day. On the other, they've got the quarterback who gives them the best chance to lose.

Problem is, it's the same guy on both sides. It's Matt Ryan.

He's the third-overall pick in this year's draft. He's the guy with a contract worth $72 million over six years. He's 23 years old and already the face of a franchise before ever taking a snap in a regular-season game.

He's also a major dilemma for new coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff as they try to rebuild a franchise that may be as close to an expansion team as we've seen since the Houston Texans surfaced in 2002. Deciding what to do with Ryan could be the most critical decision Smith and Dimitroff ever make.

Start him or sit him?

There really is no middle ground. Unless something truly dramatic happens in Friday night's preseason game against Tennessee, the original plan to let things sort themselves out isn't going to make the decision totally obvious.

Smith and Dimitroff, who never have been in this spot before, are going to have to sort things out on their own. If training camp has shed any light on their quarterback quandary, it's that Ryan is more physically talented than veterans Chris Redman, who was out of the league two years ago, and Joey Harrington.

If history has shown Smith and Dimitroff anything, it's that guys like Ryan can turn into guys like Harrington if you don't play your cards right. Take the case of Harrington, who the Detroit Lions took with the No. 3 pick in the 2002 draft. A talented prospect out of Oregon, Harrington got thrown into the lineup of a bad team almost from the start, throwing 50 interceptions in his first 44 games with the Lions.

Harrington got booed out of Detroit and seems to never have recovered. Or take the case of David Carr, the No. 1 pick by those expansion Texans in the same draft. Behind an expansion offensive line that never got any better, Carr took a beating and still was suffering from shellshock when he got a fresh start with the Carolina Panthers last season.

"You think about all that and we know the history," Dimitroff said. "We know the players who haven't worked out at that position and you keep that in the back of your mind. But if that player is the right person, you go forward and you don't hesitate."

Over the last quarter of a century, Dan Marino and Ben Roethlisberger are the only two rookie quarterbacks who have turned out to clearly be the right person immediately. But that may be only because they came along at the right time. Marino had instant success with Miami and Roethlisberger won right away with Pittsburgh.

But the Dolphins and Steelers they joined were already good teams. The Falcons aren't. Atlanta is coming off a disastrous 4-12 season in which coach Bobby Petrino quit late in the year. Before that, franchise quarterback Michael Vick went through a legal drama that ended with him in federal prison for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring.

In some ways, that might have made the path a little easier for Ryan. Expectations aren't very high and the fans in Atlanta might have a little extra patience for their quarterback.

Then, there's Ryan himself. Watch him on the practice field or go back to his film from Boston College and there's little doubt he has the physical skills. Sit and talk to him for a few minutes and it's obvious he has poise and maturity.

"It's up to the coaches to decide what they want to do," Ryan said. "I'm just going out there and trying to get better every day."

Smith and Dimitroff have to be tempted to just go ahead and make Ryan their opening-day starter after a strong training camp and a sharp opening to the preseason.

"I've always felt strongly about making sure you have some tools on that offense to take some of that pressure off a new quarterback," Dimitroff said. "You've got to have a good offensive line, good receiving corps and an accomplished running attack. If you have those pieces together, I think you have a solid chance of moving forward with a rookie quarterback at the helm."

The Falcons have a promising young receiver in Roddy White and they signed the best running back in free agency (Michael Turner). The offensive line isn't a strength by any means, but the Falcons did trade back into the first round to draft left tackle Sam Baker to protect Ryan's blind side and that's a start.

But is all that enough to leave the Falcons comfortable starting Ryan right away? A rough rookie season could set an ominous note for the rest of his career. Throwing Ryan in too soon could turn him into the second coming of Carr or Harrington and the Falcons are taking that into consideration.

"I think you always have to look at the history," Smith said. "But you also have to take the information from what you see and what your gut tells you and what your coaching staff tells you. We'll listen to all that and make a decision on what's going to be best for our football team and what's going to be best for Matt."

One way or the other, the Falcons have to tip the scale.

I agree with this because if matt start off great, it means he got the starting job(which i hope he does) but if he start off bad that means redmen or harrington get the start lol

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You got to start him, Peyton Manning started on a bad team, and they are now one of the best in the league. With the money he is getting, you got to put him on the field. If he bust, it happens we want be the first team to have it happen, you just can't replace experence. Harrington's situation was different in the kind of coach he had, he was closer to our last coach. I think we have the right staff in place to lead him properly, but this is the NFL which for some players means "Not For Long".

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