As Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan enters his 13th season, the former 2016 NFL Most Valuable Player says he feels "great." Despite being another year older, the 35-year-old Ryan says it's an advantage for him because he's become a better player through the years.
Ryan has kept himself in top shape and is eager to get the 2020 season started with his teammates. The Falcons will face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium at 1 p.m. ET.
"I have a way I've played the game for a long time and I don't think that's changed with age," Ryan said. "I think it's only gotten better. I think I'm a better decision maker, I have more experience and I'm better situationally than I've ever been. I feel really good about where I'm at in my career. I feel like every week I give our team a chance to go out there and win and at the end of the day, that's all that matters. I feel great, I feel young and I'm as excited as ever to get this season started."
Key to a fast start for the Falcons
One of the most pressing questions about the Falcons heading into the 2020 season is how will the team start their Week 1 game? After getting off to a 1-7 start in the 2019 season, the pressure is on the Falcons and Ryan to ensure that doesn't happen again.
According to Ryan, a fast start on offense comes down to two things: No turnovers and staying ahead of the chains. That's what Atlanta must do to give themselves a chance to win their season-opener in what is a critical year.
"It comes down to No. 1 taking care of the football," Ryan said. "Making sure that we're protecting the football the way we know how. And No. 2, staying in front of the chains. Not putting us in too many third-and-long situations. Being positive on first and second downs, giving us a chance to be successful. I think if we do those two things early, we're going to be just fine."
Confident in supporting cast
After finishing No. 3 in the league in passing yards (294.6) and No. 13 in scoring offense (23.8 points per game), Atlanta's offense hopes to build off the success they had last year in offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's first season with the unit. Wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley return and are expected to dominate once again. Hayden Hurst will take over as the Falcons' starting tight end and Ryan likes what he's seen from his thus far. The Falcons also added the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year to their roster in free agency when they signed Todd Gurley to become the lead running back. All five starters along the offensive line return healthy and significantly improved as well.
"I like the group we have," Ryan said. "I feel like we're in a good spot going into this year. We've got a lot of work in front of us, we have to take care of business this week and keep that mindset throughout the season."
Atlanta Falcons will debut new uniforms this season, beginning with black home jerseys against the Seahawks in Week 1, new gradient jerseys in week 7 against the Lions and Throwbacks week 13 against the Saints.