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PHILADELPHIA — It was the third quarter, and Falcons extensive receiver Julio Jones—as is so typically the case—was open down the left sideline close to the finish zone. Quarterback Matt Flacco did not see him.
Er, sorry, Matt Ryan. Hard to inform the distinction typically.
There are a legion of people that will let you know how nice Ryan is. It’s virtually like a cottage trade. An military of apologists who toss all of Matt Flacco’s stats and information and movie cut-ups in your face like they’re grenades.
Oh, my dangerous, I did it once more. Sorry: Matt Ryan.
The Ryan apologists are in all places. Ready to pounce. To let you know he is in the identical elite tier as Cam Newton and Russell Wilson and Drew Brees. They’ll stomp their toes and cross their arms and insist on it.
And absolutely, they are going to name Ryan and the Falcons’ season opener towards the Eagles a battle. They’ll say they took the defending Super Bowl champions down to the final play of the sport earlier than shedding 18-12 in a sloppily performed sport that in the finish was enjoyable.
They’ll say Ryan deserves credit score for taking the Eagles down to the ultimate moments. Eat that, haters.
But let me ask a query.
Do you actually belief this quarterback? Do you actually belief this Falcons staff?
To me, they appear seemingly the identical ol’ Falcons, and this looks like the identical ol’ Flacco.
Sorry: Ryan. I stated Ryan. R-Y-A-N.
The sport was ugly. It was one in all the worst officiated video games you’ll ever see. There have been a complete of 26 penalties for 236 yards. In addition to being a Thursday evening sport, that are historically dangerous anyway, it was additionally the opener, and the rust confirmed.
Yet someway we watched Nick Foles assistance will his staff to a win. It wasn’t fairly. He was simply 19-of-34 for 117 yards and an interception. But he stored taking what the protection gave him, even when it meant regularly dumping off to Nelson Agholor. He was Three-of-Four for 17 yards on the game-winning drive—nothing particular, however precisely what was wanted to assist the Philadelphia operating sport, which was carrying down Atlanta’s protection. I by no means felt Foles was going to lose.
Think about that. A profession journeyman who had one nice stretch final yr, and you might simply see that someway, someway, he was going to win.
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He has talent, positive, however Foles additionally has confidence. He has confidence regardless of figuring out that ultimately, possibly in just some weeks, he might be changed by Carson Wentz. He simply would not appear to care. Nothing appears to hassle him.
The reverse appears true with Ryan. He has all the pieces round him. He has a great operating sport—led by Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman—and possibly the second-best receiver in the league in Julio Jones. His line is nice, and his protection is not dangerous.
And on Thursday, he did what he so typically does—what those that argue for him so typically level out. He received the statistical battle, throwing for 251 yards (on 21-of-43 passing).
But he additionally had the alternative to change the narrative about him and the Falcons, to win, and he misplaced. It was the final play of the sport, at the Eagles’ 5-yard line, and they got here up quick once more.
What occurred in the pink zone on this sport is a microcosm of what this Falcons staff is and why it’s virtually unattainable to belief. Ryan was 1-of-9 with an interception there.
After the sport, Ryan was requested extensively about the Falcons’ red-zone struggles. He patiently answered each query however stored making the identical level.
“It’s one game,” he stated. “That’s the sample size that we have right now. It’s disappointing that we didn’t make them tonight. It’s not a season of not scoring touchdowns.”
In these short-field and short-yardage performs, the Falcons do not appear able to successful the intense one-on-one battles. This was the case final season and is once more this yr.
“You’re not going to get me to say anything bad about Matt Ryan,” Eagles defensive again Malcolm Jenkins stated. “He’s a great player. But we have great players, too.”
“No panic on the sideline,” stated Eagles coach Doug Pederson about his staff, “resiliency. The guys hanging together.”
For as soon as, simply as soon as, it would be good to hear Ryan and the Falcons being referred to as resilient.
The Eagles are a mentally powerful and proficient soccer staff. They’re not a fluke, and they’re 10-1 at residence, together with the playoffs, since begin of final season.
Again, this was Ryan’s sport to take.
The finest quote from anybody, presumably ever, about Ryan did not come from both postgame locker room. It got here from Hall of Famer Steve Young on ESPN.
“He’s a solid player,” Young stated. “He would not get overwhelmed. I really feel like he is forward of the sport. What I would like to do is say, ‘Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.’ That’s what I would like to do. But it simply retains not taking place. … I would like Matt to step up and make that final drive.”
“Matt’s been playing great football for a long time, but there is something about that last bit of getting to Everest,” Young continued. “That last base camp all the way to the top that Matt just needs to climb himself.”
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That quote is the truest factor about any participant in the league you may hear this complete season.
The Falcons can be good. They’ll put up some numbers and be a risk. Ryan can have his traditional backers and apologists.
The drawback nonetheless will stay. We nonetheless cannot belief Matt Flacco.