Matt Ryan ran the triple option when he played quarterback at William Penn Charter High School in Philadelphia. That might come as a surprise to anyone who has seen Ryan, known for being a pocket passer, play during his career with the Falcons. He has a little over 1,000 yards on the ground now in his 14th season in the NFL
Ryan has mentioned that he has been working on his speed in the offseason, so when he scored on a zone read on Sunday in the falcons loss to the Buccaneers, leaping over a defender to do so, he wasn't surprised.
"I mean it was two yards," Ryan said with a smile. "I've always moved better than people think, It's not great but it's good enough. I feel comfortable doing those kinds of things."
Ryan added that seeing him running zone read plays may happen "here and there" but the decision will come down to coach Arthur Smith. Ryan has had a great career of because of his arm, he's thrown for at least 4,000 yards in the past ten seasons and on Sunday he became the NFL's all time passing leader through a player's first fourteen seasons.
While Ryan jokes about the run and says he feels comfortable in those situations, don't expect to see him switching from the style that has won him an NFL MVP, and in Sunday's matchup against the Giants Ryan says the team needs to focus on continuing to do the things that they have done well.
"If you can do it once, you can do it again," Ryan said. "You have to hammer home to our young players that it's not gonna require anything extraordinary. It's just gonna require lots of really ordinary plays that you do really well, consistently for four quarters and so that's kind of the message that I'm trying to hammer home to our guys is just you have to do your job really well play after play after play."
For Ryan, consistency looks like continuing to be efficient on first and second downs so that they can be in a better position to convert on third down. Which Ryan said the team did effectively through the first two games, through the air against the Buccaneers and on the ground against the Eagles.
"I think that's a recipe for success moving forward," Ryan said. The percentages are much higher of converting drives converting third downs when we are at third and five or less, so I think that's been pretty good so far this year."
The Giants defensive line, led by Leonard Williams who racked up 11.5 sacks last season, is arguably the strongest part of their defense. In the first two weeks, the Falcons offensive line has struggled against Eagles and Buccaneers talented defensive lines. Ryan was sacked three times in week one and in week two he was sacked just once but pressure from the defensive line caused two late pick sixes that sealed the game for the Buccaneers.
"It's a group that plays hard and they're big upfront, you know a big defensive front four," said Ryan, about the Giants defensive line. "I think the linebackers are savvy, veteran guys. They got some people in the secondary that we've played against in our past and know well. And I think they play hard, play physical, and so we definitely have to have our mindset right, have a great week of preparation. We want to make sure that we are as tight as we can be and we're ready to go."
At halftime of Sunday's game, Manning will be inducted into the Giants' Ring of Honor. He will have his No. 10 jersey retired during a become the 43rd member of the Giants Ring of Honor. Manning (57,023) sits just one spot ahead of Ryan (56,231) in the NFL's all-time passing leaders list.
"I'm happy for Eli, he's a friend and a guy that I've known for a long time, was a competitor for a long time and so, you know, he deserves it, one of those clutch players in critical situations, and I'm happy for him and his family."
+ Russell Gage (ankle), AJ Terrell (concussion) and Frank Darby (calf) were not on the field during the Falcons open practice period on Wednesday. Arthur Smith said before practice to expect guys like Gage to be limited this week. The Falcons are hopeful to get a better evaluation of their injuries later in the week to make a decision regarding their game status come Sunday.
+ Josh Andrews (hand) and Kendall Sheffield (undisclosed injury) have been on IR since the season started. Smith was asked about their progress on Wednesday and he said they were both "hopefully close" to a return.
+ The Falcons signed veteran punter Dustin Colquitt on Tuesday. He was out at practice on Wednesday. Smith said they'll make a decision about their punting situation later in the week. They want to give Cameron Nizialek a chance to redeem himself following a tough day in Tampa on Sunday.
+ With Gage not practicing, Olamide Zaccheaus' role increased. He was working with Calvin Ridley and the quarterbacks early in practice. It's a spot normally reserved for Gage.
+ Smith said he thought Jalen Mayfield took a step in the right direction on Sunday against the Buccaneers. It wasn't perfect, but it was a step. Smith said there are times rookies can just roll over after a bad performance, but he liked Mayfield's response. But he still has a ways to go in his development, and the Falcons will have a decision to make at the left guard position once Andrews does come back.