Matt Ryan knows exactly what to expect from the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. A tough, physical matchup and a lot of pressure coming at him.
This year maybe more than ever.
Carolina ranks No. 1 in the league in sacks with 36 and they’re getting it done by committee.
Ryan says the key to being successful against the Panthers (5-4) is for the offensive line to play well in pass protection and stay on schedule.
“They’ve been very good,” Ryan said. “They’ve been physical in the front-seven. They’ve got a number of different guys who can rush the passer. We’ve got to do a great job up front and stay in front of the chains on first and second down.”
Confidence in Jaeden Graham
Austin Hooper has become one of Ryan’s favorite targets over the last two seasons and with his status uncertain for Sunday with a knee injury, Ryan will have to rely on Graham, an undrafted free agent out of Yale.
“I have a lot of confidence in Jaeden Graham,” Ryan said. “He’s done a nice job for us at different points this season when his number has been called he’s made plays for us. He’s always well prepared week in and week out, he’s ready to go. I have full confidence when he gets his chance if those guys can’t go, he’s going to do a great job for us.”
Run game needs to continue to be effective
The Falcons’ best rushing performance correlated with their best game of the season. Atlanta rushed for 143 yards in their 26-9 win over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday.
Ryan believes in order for the Falcons (2-7) to take advantage of Carolina’s defense, running the ball effectively will need to be a big part of what they do.
The Panthers have struggled to stop the run this season. They’ve given up the most rushing touchdowns in the league (17) and rank No. 20 against the run.
“They’re aggressive,” Ryan said. “They’re going to stop the run. That’s what their built to do. The only way for us to get any of that going is to run the football effectively. When we do that, it gives us the chance to create explosive plays in lots of different ways.”