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Ryan hungrily, speedily absorbs information


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Here is some insight as to why Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan has earned the trust of his coaches and teammates and the coveted starting job.

During the preseason, after ingesting hours of footage of upcoming opponents, Ryan skipped any downtime and began to dissect video of the Detroit Lions, the Falcons’ season-opening opponent Sept. 7 at the Georgia Dome.

“Oh, I’ve taken a look at some Lions tape,” he begrudgingly confessed last week. “Just trying to get a head start.”

Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave, an astute and organized teacher who connects every dot to the last detail, has quietly raved about Ryan’s dedication. In fact, Musgrave said Ryan is such a natural for the position that his method of mastering the craft might simply be innate.

“I still have a long way to go and lot of improving to do, but I think I’ve made some strides,” Ryan said.

Quite a few.

During Ryan’s first minicamp, two weeks after the Falcons drafted him third overall, the Boston College product routinely threw the ball behind receivers. He hung balls in the air, in turn hanging receivers out to get hit hard by a surging safety.

Receiver Roddy White routinely would walk back to the huddle mumbling for Ryan to get the ball out of his hands sooner and not get so much air under it. Ryan was no longer in college, where he would have to loft balls and wait for slower receivers to run under them.

By the time training camp started two months later, the ball was coming out earlier, receivers weren’t having to wait, and most important, the passes were on the money.

“I’ve gotten better in understanding the offense, getting familiar with what we’re trying to do as a team, what’s expected of the quarterback, and I’ve gotten better recognizing defenses in the NFL,” Ryan said. “The field is different. The numbers are [located] different. The hashmarks are different than they are in college. I’ve gotten better at [understanding] that. You have to grind in the film room. … Take mental pictures of what coverages look like and what certain players do in different situations.”

As quickly as Ryan has established himself, he’s fully aware things are about to change. The regular season will provide schemes he hasn’t seen on film and players far more eager to put the $72 million rookie in his place.

He’ll take it early and get better, Musgrave said. When it comes to mistakes, he’s not a repeat offender.

“We feel like, as a staff, that he is the best quarterback,” coach Mike Smith said. “We owe it to the guy and to our football team to make sure the best player is out there.”

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I hate talking about Vick, but this is why I feel confident about this franchise. He may not be blessed with the arm strength or speed but Ryan is constantly bettering himself and doing as much as possible to make people around him better.

His attitude has won me over every time I've heard from him and anytime I hear anything about him and on draft day I doubted the pick.

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To say Matt Ryan is CEREBRAL is an understatement. He is constantly "surveying" and "analyzing" the situation and the field when playing.

His preparation will be second to NONE. Whatever it takes. Then, there is his personality. ZERO ego, tons of confidence, great athletic awareness and ability, and something you can't coach...................natural leadership and a desire for excellence.

Now you see why TD and staff were so very high on him before the draft.

All this being said, he hasn't played a single down of football in a regular season NFL game. Zip.............nada.

TIME will only tell if all his possitive attributes will translate to winning games, starting at 1 PM, Sept. 7, 2008, at the Georgia Dome.

I wouldn't miss it for anything.

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