FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Quarterback Matt Ryan bounced back with a strong game against the Carolina Panthers, completing 23 of 28 passes for 272 yards and leading the Falcons to 31-24 win on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Thanks to sensors in the shoulder pads of each player, the NFL is able to use real-time player tracking to capture a wide array of data on every down – and the location, speed, and acceleration for all players give us Next Gen Stats. Let’s take a closer look at Ryan’s performance against the Panthers.
In the zone
Ryan had his short game dialed in, completing 14 of 15 passes (93 percent) for 138 yards with one touchdown and a 127.2 passer rating on throws between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards downfield. His efficiency on these short throws allowed the Falcons to exploit opportunities for yards after the catch (YAC) within the Panthers coverage.
For example, Calvin Ridley caught four passes for 64 yards and a touchdown in the game. All four of those receptions came between the line of scrimmage and 10 yards downfield and he gained 38 yards after the catch. Ridley’s 38 YAC included two big gains that went for 22 yards on passes that he caught within six yards of the line of scrimmage. When paired with Ryan’s precision throws in the short-passing game, Ridley’s ability to gain yards after the catch clearly demonstrates the impact the rookie receiver can have on the Falcons offense.
Moving the threshold back 10 yards adds in Ryan’s additional touchdown throw. Although it only shows up as an 8-yard toss in the stat sheet – the depth of the end zone doesn’t count for official NFL statistical purposes – tight end Austin Hooper caught his touchdown from Ryan 6 yards deep in the end zone or 14 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Ryan only attempted two passes in this intermediate zone – going one-for-two – but overall 15 of his 23 completions came on throws between the line of scrimmage and 20 yards downfield. He converted on all five of his passes behind the line of scrimmage and went three-for-six on throws of 20-plus yards.
Despite the fact that the offense was unable to convert on its three deep-shot plays, Ryan converted all but two of his passes of less than 30 yards. Ryan also only missed throws to two of his receivers – Julio Jones (four) and Ridley (one). He was nine-of-14 when targeting the duo of Alabama wideouts and a perfect 14-for-14 when targeting all other players.
Ryan was red-hot when throwing to his right, completing eight-of-nine passes for 87 yards and two scores to the right side of the hash marks. He was also on the money on throws to the deep left part of the field, connecting on 75 percent (three-of-four) of his passes for 90 yards, including 30-yard connections with Jones, Hooper, and receiver Marvin Hall.
The Falcons snapped Carolina’s streak of 21 games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, as Tevin Coleman totaled 107 yards on 16 carries. Coleman is the first back to eclipse 100-rushing yards and the third to average better than 6 yards per carry against the Panthers since 2016. He did the majority of his damage running to the right side of the Falcons line, racking up 87 yards on 10 carries when the play went that direction.
Coleman ran an average of 3.4 yards per rushing yard gained, making him one of the 10 most efficient backs in the league last week. He saw eight-or-more defenders in the box on 25 percent of his snaps and spent an average of 2.61 seconds behind the line of scrimmage per rush. Coleman was one of three 100-yard rushers last week, here is how they compared.
The Falcons totaled 170 yards on 32 carries, marking the teams’ second-highest rushing total under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and the sixth time the unit has tallied 30-plus carries. The 170-yard output was the sixth-highest total the Falcons have recorded against Carolina and accounted for their most rushing yards in a single game against the Panthers since 2009 (176).
In addition to Coleman’s big day, rookie running back Ito Smith logged nine carries for 46 yards (5.1 yards per carry). The former Southern Miss star balanced the Falcons rushing attack by doing most of his damage opposite of Coleman, running for all his yardage to the left side of the Falcons line. This included an 18-yard scamper that set up Ryan’s first rushing touchdown of the day.
Not to be outdone by his backfield compatriots, Ryan added 18 yards on four carries and a pair of touchdowns, an 8-yard scramble as well as the aforementioned 1-yard QB sneak.
For the second straight game, Coleman was the fastest ball carrier for the Falcons. He hit 20.31 miles per hour on his 36-yard run down the sideline in the second quarter. Coleman was the 11th-fastest ball carrier in the NFL in Week 2 and he’s cracked the top 20 fastest ball carriers list in each of Atlanta’s games this season.
The four-year veteran still has a few more gears though. He hit a peak speed of 22.25 mph in 2016 and was the ninth-fastest ball carrier in the NFL that season.