As the Atlanta Falcons (0-4) look to try and get their first win of the season, quarterback Matt Ryan discussed a number of topics during his media availability on Wednesday including: The emergence of undrafted free agent wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, gaining momentum and the Carolina Panthers' defense.
Falcons need to gain momentum
Ryan has been in the NFL long enough to know it's a week-to-week league. In order to gain momentum and turn the season around, Ryan said it is all about finding a way to win on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Falcons have yet to put a full game together and Ryan acknowledged that needs to change.
"Momentum is real ... there's no question about it," Ryan said. "When you are rolling, confidence continues to build and so we've got find a way to get it started. That's what we have to focus on."
Olamide Zaccheaus showing promise
All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that forced him to miss Atlanta's Week 3 game against the Chicago Bears. Jones was able to recover in time for the recent matchup with the Packers but re-injured his hamstring in the first half and didn't return. Jones didn't practice on Wednesday and if he's unable to go on Sunday against the Panthers, Ryan feels comfortable with his weapons because of what he's seen from Olamide Zaccehaus.
No one was expecting for Ridley to have zero catches against the Packers after the start he's had to the season. Without Jones on the field, Green Bay was able to zero in on Ridley and it was Zaccheaus who shined. Zaccheaus caught eight passes for 88 yards in Atlanta's 30-16 loss to the Packers.
"Olamide has done a good job for us," Ryan said. "It's hard to be a body double for a guy like Julio because he's just not normal, you know? Olamide does a great job of it in terms of having great speed on the outside, very sure hands catching the football. He's also willing in the run game to go block. I think he's done a great job in the last few weeks given a little bit more playing time."
Ryan preparing for a new look Carolina defense
The Panthers are a completely different team than the Falcons have seen over the years. First-year head coach Matt Rhule has made significant changes from scheme to personnel. Carolina's defense has a new scheme under defensive coordinator Phil Snow and several players in their first year with the team.
The Panthers have been particularly good against the pass this season as they rank No. 7 in the league giving up 227 yards per game. They also rank No. 2 in fumble recoveries with five on the year and have recorded two interceptions.
Ryan said it's certainly been an adjustment for him in his preparation for Sunday's game.
"They're a completely different scheme and a lot of different personnel from what we've faced really in the last decade in Carolina," Ryan said. "That part of it has been an adjustment for me. They keep things in front of them. They do a good job of trying to limit explosive plays. And they are fast. They have really good speed at all three levels of their defense and I think that's part of why they've had success the last two weeks."
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones became the Atlanta Falcons' all-time leader in receptions with 809 career receptions, surpassing Roddy White.