In the three years that Matt Ryan has been the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, the team has had winning seasons, 11-5 in 2008, 9-7 in 2009 and an impressive 13-3 in 2010. Matt Ryan took the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs in 2008, as a wild card team, and again in 2010, as the winner of the NFC South Division. Remarkable, however, the Atlanta Falcons lost the wild card game in 2008 to the Arizona Cardinals and also lost the divisional game in 2010 to the Green Bay Packers.
Will 2011 be the year for the Atlanta Falcons? Can Matt Ryan not only lead the Atlanta Falcons into the playoffs again, but can he lead them to victory? Are the Atlanta Falcons going to the Super Bowl this year?
Matt Ryan, drafted third overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2008 NFL draft, became the starting quarterback in his rookie year and was named the 2008 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. Improving in each of his three years with the Atlanta Falcons, he ended the 2010 season with a quarterback rating of 91.0 and 3705 passing yards. During each off season, Ryan studies video tapes of current quarterback greats such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. In the most recent off season, he has also been analyzing defenses. On the field, Ryan, known by his teammates as Matty Ice, is capable of calling his own plays especially during a no huddle offense. He is able to read defenses well and can change the play on the line if necessary.
In 2010, Matt Ryan’s favorite wide receiver, Roddy White, was doubled covered much of the time, especially during obvious passing situations. Although White had an extraordinary year in 2010, with 1389 yards and 115 catches including 10 touchdowns, the Falcons needed to improve the chances of the Atlanta Falcons going to the Super Bowl this year and give Matt Ryan more options on the field.
Here are some changes and improvements made to the offense in anticipation of the Atlanta Falcons going to the Super Bowl this year.
Realizing the deficiency at the wide receiver position, the Atlanta Falcons, with the sixth overall pick, drafted wide receiver Julio Jones in the 2011 NFL draft. Jones, who played for the Alabama Crimson Tide, has tremendous speed and will start in the wide receiver position opposite Roddy White.
Third year wide receiver Harry Douglas, who has been inactive because of a knee injury for the last year and a half, is healthy this year. With his quickness and agility downfield, he will become the third receiver in the slot position for passing downs. Douglas has looked impressive in both recent Atlanta Falcons preseason games.
In the running back position Michael Turner, signed by the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent in 2008, will remain the starter. In 2010, Turner carried the ball for 1371 yards, scoring 12 touchdowns, and also had 12 catches for 85 yards.
Joining Turner in the backfield this year during various running plays will be rookie running back Jacquizz Rodgers. Drafted by the Atlanta Falcons as the 145th pick in the fifth round, Rodgers was known at Oregon State for his speed and elusiveness in addition to his ability to catch the ball.
Last, but certainly not least, is veteran Tony Gonzalez, who will continue to be the starting tight end for the Atlanta Falcons. Gonzalez holds several NFL records for tight ends such as the most career touchdowns by a tight end with 88 and the most career receptions by a tight end with 1069. Gonzalez, who is thought to be one of greatest ever tight ends in football, had an impressive 2010 season with 1,389 yards and 115 catches including 10 touchdowns.
The addition of Julio Jones, Harry Douglas and Jacquizz Rodgers to the veteran lineup of Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Michael Turner and others increases the likelihood of the Atlanta Falcons going to the Super Bowl this year.
Matt Ryan will be living a quarterback’s dream with Roddy White and Julio Jones on opposite sides of the field, Tony Gonzalez in the tight end formation and Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield. Defenses will not be able to double cover everyone. For example, if Ryan sees that White is double covered, he still has numerous options. He can throw the deep pass to Jones, the short pass to Gonzalez or even the dump off pass to Turner or Rodgers. Or he could even decide to change the play at the line and hand the ball off to one of the backs. And when Harry Douglas is on the field as the slot receiver, it gives Ryan still another option.
With the addition of Julio Jones to the lineup, it is generally thought that Atlanta Falcons will be incorporating more deep passing routes into the offense. In addition, any one of these talented players has the ability to gain more yards after making the catch, with the others blocking, and turn it into a big play.
Fans of the Atlanta Falcons are hoping to see Matt Ryan call more of his own plays and throw more long passes down the field to his capable wide receivers. But more importantly, fans are looking forward to seeing the Atlanta Falcons going to the Super Bowl this year.