Entering his ninth season, Matt Ryan will be looking to build on his already impressive resume by, first and most importantly, helping his team get back into the playoffs and adding to his franchise record numbers. For Ryan, there's no better way to get started on those goals than by facing a familiar foe and a very familiar face.
In football – and life – it's all about growth and doing the right things consistently. On Tuesday, Ryan mentioned in his weekly radio show how Tampa Bay Buccaneers new Head Coach Dirk Koetter helped him in his maturing process in the NFL.
"You know, Dirk taught me a lot about being confident in what we do," Ryan said. "He believed if I was comfortable with it, go. It made me take ownership of what I liked, what I didn't like. He pushed me to be better in that department."
Ryan has shown that confidence in his previous 16 games against the Bucs, as he averages 235.4 passing yards per game, a 65-percent completion percentage, 22 touchdowns, and a streak of eight straight games where he has thrown for 200-plus yards. During a Thursday night game in the Georgia Dome in 2014 (9/18/14), Ryan dropped back 24 times and threw as many touchdowns as he did incompletions – three. It was the fifth time in his career, second time versus Tampa, that he posted a completion percentage of 80-percent or higher – first time against the Bucs was in 2012 when he went 26-of-32 (81.3-percent) for 353 yards, one touchdown and a 110 passer rating.
Last season in week eight, Ryan completed 82.2-percent of his passes (37-of-45), which was the sixth time in his career, and the third time against Tampa Bay that he's completed 80 percent-or-more of his passes. During that game he also threw for 397 yards, which was his fourth highest passing yards total in his career and the highest total he's posted against the Buccaneers.
Ryan really credits Koetter for teaching him a lot about the passing game and reading defenses; therefore, playing into Ryan's impressive numbers over the years and his streak of 4,000 yard passing seasons. It will be an interesting chess match between the three-time Pro Bowler and his former coaches on Sunday in the final season opener in the Georgia Dome.