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http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/06/30/jaws-matt-ryan-must-improve-in-muddied-pocket/

Jaws: Matt Ryan must improve in ‘muddied pocket’

Posted by Evan Silva on June 30, 2012, 4:24 PM EDT

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As Ron Jaworski of ESPN continues his ranking of the top-30 quarterbacks in the NFL, he slotted Atlanta’s Matt Ryan 11th among signal callers after back-to-back playoff appearances. Ryan is 27 years old. His career touchdown-to-interception ratio is 95:46, and Ryan’s yearly passer ratings have risen steadily.

“You know what I really appreciate about Ryan; he has improved in each of his four years as the Falcons’ starter,” Jaworski said on SportsCenter Saturday. “… He’s won 69 percent of his NFL starts. That’s pretty good.”

Jaworski likes Ryan’s talent level, and particularly his commanding presence and decision making before the snap of the ball. “Ryan is a timing and rhythm passer,” Jaws observed. “He hits his back foot, and the ball comes out. First down was the explosive-play down for Ryan [in 2011]. He had 24 completions of 20 yards or more. … I also like Ryan’s natural feel for anticipating throws.

“In 2011, Ryan was given more responsibility at the line of scrimmage. The ability to control the game before the snap is an increasingly important attribute in today’s NFL.”

Jaws still sees one part of Ryan’s game that must improve, in order for the fifth-year signal caller to take another step forward.

“Ryan is right on the edge being a top-ten NFL quarterback,” Jaworski opined. “I love the way he’s engaged in every single game. But there’s still one element of Ryan’s game that needs work. He must become more consistent in what I call a ‘muddied pocket.’ With bodies flying around him. Right now, he needs that comfortable cradle, functional space. If he improves in that area, he’ll crack my top ten.”

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While 70% of the problem is the O-Line, I also agree w/ Jaws - when the pocket gets crowded, Matt's eyes drop and he seems to not know how to slide and buy himself extra time like other QBs. While Matt will never have the athleticism to be on par with Vick/Newton/Rodgers - there are other QBs no more athletic than Ryan - who seem to be able to buy time - Eli Manning for example.

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While 70% of the problem is the O-Line, I also agree w/ Jaws - when the pocket gets crowded, Matt's eyes drop and he seems to not know how to slide and buy himself extra time like other QBs. While Matt will never have the athleticism to be on par with Vick/Newton/Rodgers - there are other QBs no more athletic than Ryan - who seem to be able to buy time - Eli Manning for example.

The way Eli Manning can spin away from pressure, find his target the moment he looks downfield, and get the ball off instantaneously is witchcraft, pure and simple.

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The way Eli Manning can spin away from pressure, find his target the moment he looks downfield, and get the ball off instantaneously is witchcraft, pure and simple.

Sometimes he isn't even looking as he releases it...he sees the receiver and then throws while spinning away from the D. It's sick.

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It's happened, it happens to everyone. It happens to Vick more than anyone. When you get hit as much as Ryan did early last year as well, you start feeling pressure that isn't there.

agreed. Matt has gotten gun-shy and his pocket presence is much worse now than his rookie year. The way Matt stood in the pocket his rook year - he was fearless. The O-Line was not much better then but Matt was definitely more brave and slightly more instinctive. I'm not taking a shot at Matt - love the player - but its true. In fairness, Matt is getting hit - A LOT. Frankly, Matt looks awful in th muddled pocket - maybe if Konz can help solidify the interior of the offensive line, maybe Matt will have more confidence in at least part of his line. I hope Hawley can step up and take the center job from McClure - i know everyone loves "mud-cat"(or dog?) but McClure gives ground too much in pass protection.

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agreed. Matt has gotten gun-shy and his pocket presence is much worse now than his rookie year. The way Matt stood in the pocket his rook year - he was fearless. The O-Line was not much better then but Matt was definitely more brave and slightly more instinctive. I'm not taking a shot at Matt - love the player - but its true. In fairness, Matt is getting hit - A LOT. Frankly, Matt looks awful in th muddled pocket - maybe if Konz can help solidify the interior of the offensive line, maybe Matt will have more confidence in at least part of his line. I hope Hawley can step up and take the center job from McClure - i know everyone loves "mud-cat"(or dog?) but McClure gives ground too much in pass protection.

duck....mud-duck

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agreed. Matt has gotten gun-shy and his pocket presence is much worse now than his rookie year. The way Matt stood in the pocket his rook year - he was fearless. The O-Line was not much better then but Matt was definitely more brave and slightly more instinctive. I'm not taking a shot at Matt - love the player - but its true. In fairness, Matt is getting hit - A LOT. Frankly, Matt looks awful in th muddled pocket - maybe if Konz can help solidify the interior of the offensive line, maybe Matt will have more confidence in at least part of his line. I hope Hawley can step up and take the center job from McClure - i know everyone loves "mud-cat"(or dog?) but McClure gives ground too much in pass protection.

BOOM! TRUTH!

That's why I think Matt's best year was his rookie year.

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agreed. Matt has gotten gun-shy and his pocket presence is much worse now than his rookie year. The way Matt stood in the pocket his rook year - he was fearless. The O-Line was not much better then but Matt was definitely more brave and slightly more instinctive. I'm not taking a shot at Matt - love the player - but its true. In fairness, Matt is getting hit - A LOT. Frankly, Matt looks awful in th muddled pocket - maybe if Konz can help solidify the interior of the offensive line, maybe Matt will have more confidence in at least part of his line. I hope Hawley can step up and take the center job from McClure - i know everyone loves "mud-cat"(or dog?) but McClure gives ground too much in pass protection.

No idea how you got cat or dog from Duck hahaha but I agree.

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It's a fair assessment. Matt can't aspire to be Rodgers or an athletic QB who can escape pressure. He needs to aspire to Manning and Brady. They're better than him, but are the same "type." Those QBs need a pocket more than athletic QBs, but they've also learned to slide up and to the side, and to release the ball without having to take such a large forward step. Ryan has an elongated step in his throwing motion, which gets limited when the pocket is muddled.

So, hopefully:

1) Create a better pocket with OL

2) Ryan learns to move within this created pocket

3) Routes are opening up so there's an outlet or a guy to throw it up to

4) Ryan has enough newfound strength to deliver without a long step, just with a shifting of weight, and so won't need as much space

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- i know everyone loves "mud-cat"(or dog?) but McClure gives ground too much in pass protection.

the whole interior line, including Blaylock and Hawley gives too much ground. Matt can't step into the pocket and the sack numbers pile up on Baker. I'm hoping Hill gives them holding lessons.

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Sometimes he isn't even looking as he releases it...he sees the receiver and then throws while spinning away from the D. It's sick.

And that's a talent that is hard to duplicate. It's almost as if the QB's that can do it was a gift they were born with. Don't know if you can train yourself.

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I remember having this debate just after this year's draft when Greg Cosell said roughly the same thing

I don't usually have much time for what Jaws says, but he's spot on here.

The advantage is that I would argue this aspect of the game is just as coachable as the pre-snap decision making that he is starting to excel at. With a new QB coach, hopefully strides can be made in this area.

Or the OL can block better - but every team's fanbase (other than the Patriots') says that every year.

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