FalconMama Posted October 10, 2008 Share Posted October 10, 2008 Bears' game plan: Rattle Matt RyanThe Bears are impressed with Ryan, but they'll still invite Atlanta's rookie QB to try to beat themDavid Haugh | On the Bears October 9, 2008As roommates go, Josh Beekman had no complaints about Matt Ryan when the two lived together for a year at Boston College."He was a neat guy," the Bears' left guard recalled Wednesday.Neat as in cool. But neat as in clear-the-table tidy too.As teammates go, Beekman recalls the third pick of this year's NFL draft had a way of putting hospital corners on offensive game plans as well. If things started to get sloppy, Ryan was not afraid to assert the leadership required of a quarterback.He was demanding, a competitor, and it was a fun challenge playing for him," Beekman said. "I was in the thick of things with Matt. It will be [different] seeing him on an opponent's end after playing with him for so long."Only one of the BC buddies will end Sunday smiling. For that to be Beekman, the Bears defense has to create as much disorder as possible for Ryan in the Georgia Dome.Defenses that create a mess in the pocket have tended to make the Falcons rookie look disheveled. But those that allowed Ryan to get clean drops and crisp throws have paid dearly.The Bears can make no adjustments against the NFL's leading rusher, Michael Turner, and risk him gashing their Cover-2 defense while setting up the play-action passing game for Ryan.Or they can crowd the line of scrimmage with hard-nosed strong safety Kevin Payne, force the Falcons out of running plays and dare Ryan to beat them.Given the Bears' quality depth in the defensive line with Tommie Harris returning and Ryan's relative inexperience against aggressive defenses, expect the latter."He has been doing a good job of just being a manager of the game and getting the ball out quickly, but hopefully we can get him uncomfortable back there," cornerback Nathan Vasher said.Could Ryan make the Bears pay if they overcommit to stopping the running game? Sure—he possesses ample talent and savvy—but this season's small sampling makes that strategy the smartest for the Bears."We're not looking at Matt Ryan as a rookie quarterback," Bears coach Lovie Smith said.Well, the Bears probably are, though nobody at Halas Hall ever would admit it.Consider that as impressive as Ryan has been in leading the Falcons to a 3-2 start, his strongest outings in those victories have come against three of the NFL's seven lowest-ranked defenses: Detroit (32nd), Kansas City (30th) and Green Bay (26th).In losses to Tampa Bay and Carolina, attacking defenses like that of the Bears, Ryan has been sacked six times and has thrown two interceptions while completing just 46 percent of his passes for 316 yards and no touchdowns.Tampa Bay, which likes to disguise its Cover-2 scheme as much as the Bears, confused Ryan so badly that his first nine pass attempts were incompletions — including the two interceptions. Ryan's passer rating in that game was 29.6, well below his respectable season average of 75.3.Identifying Ryan as the bull's-eye for the Bears defense in no way diminishes how impressively he has adapted to the NFL.Falcons coach Mike Smith used the word amazing to describe Ryan's preparation habits, which include the quarterback spending his off days at the team's Flowery Branch, Ga., facility researching opponents."I liken him to a gym rat the way he studies film," Smith said.The best way for the Bears to trap that gym rat will be forcing Ryan into third- down situations. Ryan has completed just 50 percent of his third-down attempts and is the NFL's 27th-ranked third-down passer.The Bears' chances of harassing Ryan increase in the fourth quarter. Of the 35 quarterbacks with enough attempts to qualify, Ryan is ranked 35th in fourth-quarter passer rating at 56.6.Those key numbers make the plan against Ryan's Falcons the same as it was for teams against Kyle Orton's 2005 Bears: Rattle the rookie quarterback."I don't think any rookie can come in and do it on his own," Orton said. "I don't think any quarterback in the league can come in and do it on his own. If you have good guys around you, a good defense, a good running team, which they do, that's the story of success whether you're in your first year or in your 10th year."Orton offers himself as Exhibit A. He gives the Bears their first clear-cut edge in a quarterback matchup this season in large part because his team's running game and defense have hastened his development.It's up to the Bears defense to take away Atlanta's running game to make Ryan the Falcons' best hope."I know he's going to fling it and likes a challenge," Beekman said. "I hope that he has a good NFL season this year but the Bears get after him Sunday."For the Bears to come home winners, they must get after him early and often. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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