It goes without saying that Matt Ryan's productive, efficient performance on Sunday was pivotal in Atlanta's second win of 2015. The Falcons quarterback was particularly impressive in the fourth, when he completed nine of 13 throws for 145 yards and a touchdown—good for a 131.9 passer rating—and led his team to yet another come-from-behind victory.
A big reason why Ryan has propelled Atlanta to a 2-0 record is the offensive line in front of him. Put together mere days before the regular season began, this group has looked a lot more formidable than most expected.
Consider this stat: Ryan has been pressured on 21 dropbacks in 2015, which is a pace of 168 over 16 games. Additionally, he's been sacked only three times, or 1.5 per contest. Last year, on the other hand, opponents pressured him on 241 dropbacks, and they sacked him 1.94 times a game.
We're dealing with a small sample size here, but these progressions are nothing if not encouraging.
"I think our offensive line has done a great job," Ryan said. "Through two weeks of those guys kind of working together, and there being so much turnover in that spot, I think they've done an awesome job and I ceretainly have a lot of confidence in them—both in the run game and the pass game."
The Atlanta Falcons are on their second business trip to the big apple as they face the New York Giants in the second week of the regular season. Check out these pictures of gameday.
The right side of the O-line has been especially stable, as G Chris Chester and T Ryan Schraeder have meshed well and played consistent football. Unsurprisingly, they've both compiled positive Pro Football Focus marks. Schraeder's pass block grade (4.5) currently ranks first in the NFL among qualifying right tackles.
Despite the learning curve that comes with joining a new club in September, LG Andy Levitre has excelled in pass protection, as well. Though he's still adjusting to his new surroundings, the former Titan made noticeable improvements against New York and, given his experience in an outside-zone scheme, should continue to get better.
At center, lifelong guard Mike Person has made a relatively smooth transition to his new role. He's responsible for just two QB hurries so far in 2015 and appeared to be helpful in the run game versus the Giants. The Falcons took a risk by shifting him to C, but so far, it's looked like a wise decision.
And at the most important spot, Jake Matthews (now recovered from a sore back) has been about as solid one could hope after an injury-plagued rookie season. How good has he been? Presently, only six left tackles have higher cumulative PFF grades than he does.
A lot of credit for this success goes to coordinator Kyle Shanahan and OL coach Chris Morgan. They've done a tremendous job getting the new guys up to speed and, most importantly, installing an effective system. If the line continues to hold up, Atlanta's offense may well become one of the most complete forces in the NFL.