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Ryan starts out as bad as he finished last season

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Ryan starts out as bad as he finished last season

By Jeff Schultz

For the AJC

CHICAGO -- The Falcons didn’t lose Sunday’s season opener against Chicago solely because Matt Ryan played poorly, any more than they lost a playoff game to Green Bay last January solely because Ryan was a turnover machine.

Enlarge photo sacked-focal_1135072l.jpg Charles Rex Arbogast, AP <br class="clear">


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But doesn’t it always start with the quarterback in football?

The Falcons’ 48-21 playoff loss to the Packers in the Georgia Dome was punctuated by Ryan’s three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble), including a pivotal 70-yard interception return by Tramon Williams just before halftime. Their equally ugly 30-12 loss to the Chicago Bears to open the season Sunday included two more turnovers by Ryan, an interception and a fumble that both led to touchdowns.

The fact Ryan completed 31 of 47 passes for 319 yards was mere window dressing. He made the bad plays that made a difference, not the good ones. He did not throw a touchdown pass.

“When you turn the football over three times against a good football team, you can’t expect different results,” Ryan said.

When asked why the Falcons’ expected explosive offense was anything but, Ryan credited the Bears’ defense rather than attack the Falcons’ game plan.

“Chicago did a good job of keeping things in front of them,” he said. “The nature of the Tampa-2 [scheme] is to keep everything cradled in front of them. We had opportunities today to look down field. We had plays called, aggressively trying to get the ball down the field. But they executed their game plan really well. They stayed deep and forced us to check down to our running backs.”

The game was tied 3-3 in the first quarter and the Falcons were driving from the Chicago 35 when Ryan rolled right and spotted Tony Gonzalez. Problem is that Brian Urlacher was hovering between the quarterback and the tight end and Ryan threw the pass anyway. Urlacher picked it off.

Ryan initially credited the Bears’ linebacker for getting “good extension,” but he quickly added: “I probably shouldn’t have thrown it there. I definitely shouldn’t have thrown it there. That’s one of those situations where you have to throw the football away when there’s somebody in your face. Just a poor decision.”

The Bears drove to a touchdown on their ensuing possession to take a 10-3 lead.

In the third quarter, Ryan was scrambling away from Julius Peppers when he stumbled and dropped the ball. This time, Urlacher picked it up and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown, giving Chicago a lid-slamming 30-6 lead.

Ryan: “I didn’t do a good job protecting the football there.”

Falcons coach Mike Smith declined to comment on the play of “specific players” until after he evaluated game film. But some things probably don’t need heavy analysis. Ryan has three interceptions, two lost fumbles and only one touchdown pass in his last two starts.

Success and failure in the NFL usually starts with the quarterback.

Once again, I agree with Schultz's article

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