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Matt Ryan, Falcons looking to air it out

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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan vowed to take more shots down the field this season. Thanks to Week 2, he’s on a good pace.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Ryan trails only Oakland’s Derek Carr in completion percentage of passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield through two games. Ryan has hit on 4 of 6 of those passes for 185 yards. (Carr is 3-of-4 for 108 with one touchdown).

Ryan was 3-of-3 on balls thrown 20-plus yards in the air during Sunday’s 35-28 victory over Carr and the Raiders. The Falcons signal-caller threw a 46-yard pass to Julio Jones that resulted in a 48-yard gain. He also threw a 31-yard pass to rookie tight end Austin Hooper that resulted in a 44-yard gain, as the wide-open Hooper picked up 13 yards after catch.


Ryan also threw a 25-yard pass to Hooper that led to a 34-yard gain. And in the season-opening, 31-24 loss to Tampa Bay, Ryan threw a 23-yard pass to a wide-open Mohamed Sanu that resulted in a 59-yard gain.

Last season, Ryan was 19-of-44 (43.2 percent) for 612 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions in passes 20-plus yards down the field. Going deeper does lead to a lower completion percentage, but the Falcons need to take chances, particularly with the dynamic Jones usually on the receiving end.

Jones was one of the first to say Ryan’s arm is much stronger this season, and Ryan with through intense training with a pair of ex-baseball players to improve his long ball. We will see if Ryan and the Falcons continue to go deep, particularly Monday night against the rival New Orleans Saints (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Saints, with a depleted secondary, surrender 336 passing yards per game and 8.51 passing yards per play.

"I think you definitely try to attack," Ryan said during his weekly appearance on WCNN-AM 680 The Fan in Atlanta. "Part of what we do every week is try and find where we have an advantage offensively. ... I thought [the Saints' defense] did a good job against New York in terms of they gave up yards, but they did a good job of keeping things in front and being really tough in the red zone.

"We've got to find ways to create explosive plays, which I think we'll be able to do. And then when we get in the red area, we've got to be really effective."

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