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Peter King's Monday Morning QB

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Look on the third page of this link:


The Award Section

Offensive Player of the Week

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta. Big, big game against a very good Chicago defense -- in fact, the league's best third-down defense. On third downs, he completed nine of 12 for 135 yards. That's good. This is better.

With the Falcons needing about 25 yards to attempt a game-winning field goal with six seconds left, Ryan threw a perfect 26-yard strike at the left sideline to Michael Jenkins, and Jenkins held on while crashing out of bounds. One second left. Jason Elam's 48-yard field goal won it.

Folks, we may be seeing the game's next great quarterback growing up before our very eyes. To complete 22-of-30 for 301 yards, one TD and no interceptions against a defense that hounds the quarterback as well as Chicago does is a tremendous feat for a quarterback in his sixth pro game.

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Here is a bit more that was a bit further into the article.

Lots of Falcons stuff in that link!

What I Learned About Football This Week That I Didn't Know Last Week

Rookie Falcons coach Mike Smith is a smart guy -- and that's a partly why Atlanta has overachieved this season. It's not just because of the way he trusted Matt Ryan to run the offense four months after he stepped off the Boston College campus. It's also because of the way he has used John Abraham.

Through five weeks of the season, there was Abraham atop the sack leaderboard, with seven. No defensive player in football had as many disruptive defensive plays -- sacks, forced fumbles, recovered fumbles, interceptions -- as Abraham. "I want to be known as a complete player, not just a pass-rusher,'' he said last week. "My first five, six years in the league, all I heard was, 'You've got to play the run better.' Here, I feel like I play the run and pass well, and they're keeping me fresh enough to be able to do both.''

What would you say if I told you Abraham had been on the sidelines, through five games, for 138 of the Falcons' 320 defensive snaps, and it had been done that way by design? Abraham, through five games, was playing 57 percent of the snaps.

"It hasn't been just for preservation,'' said Smith. "It's been for effectiveness. Different players have different muscular efficiency, and what we're doing here is trying to maximize that in our guys.''

Different muscular efficiency. I can't say that I've ever heard that one before. But it seems to make sense with a guy like Abraham, who has missed 31 games due to injury in his previous eight NFL seasons. And he likes the way he's being handled, both during the week and on game days, when he's being used less than he ever has been when healthy. "I'm getting more rest during the week, and I'm rotating in and out on Sundays more than I have been,'' Abraham said. "I like it. I feel fresher, I feel I can use my athleticism for the full game now.''

Abraham has played a 16-game season four times in his career, and he has shown flashes of being an all-pro pass-rusher at various times since the Jets drafted him in the first round in 2000 out of South Carolina. But often he's faded late in seasons. Judging by the numbers, he might be on his way to playing his fewest snaps per game, while making the biggest impact of his career. The year-by-year playing time for Abraham, first with the Jets and then, since 2006, with Atlanta:

Year Plays Total Def. Snaps % of Snaps Played Games missed Sacks

2008 182 320 57% 0 7

2007 813 1065 76% 0 10

2006 261 1034 25% 8 4

2005 921 1107 83% 0 10.5

2004 671 1015 66% 4 9.5

2003 303 1059 29% 9 6

2002 875 1008 86% 0 10

2001 798 1032 77% 0 13

2000 110 1052 10% 10 4.5

Smith has also moved Abraham almost equally between left end and right end, and dropped him into coverage. "We just want to make sure we use him in a smart way, and in a way he'll be able to help us for the full season,'' Smith said.

It sounds surprising that one of the best defensive players in football in the first half of this season is playing 36 snaps a game and sitting 28. But think about it: That's 36 times Abraham is playing like a sprinter coming out of the blocks, and getting beaten up in traffic. Rather than have him play 60 plays and be physically spent -- leading, perhaps, to an injury of fatigue -- it just seems smart to make sure he still has gas left in the tank in the fourth quarter and in Week 17.

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