DECATUR, Ga. — About 20 minutes earlier than Matt Ryan arrived on the Samuel L. Jones Boys & Women Membership of Metro Atlanta Thursday, highlights of the Atlanta Falcons’ deflating Tremendous Bowl LI loss to the New England Patriots performed on a big-screen tv proper contained in the entrance entrance.
Had Ryan walked in to see such a sight, he may need laughed and shaken his head earlier than continuing about his enterprise. Ryan has made some extent of not dwelling on the implosion that makes the Falcons a nationwide punchline to today.
As an alternative, Ryan maintains the identical assured strategy heading into each season. Going into 2019, nevertheless, he appears to have extra swagger than ordinary concerning his staff’s means to contend for a title.
“The group of men that now we have, now we have a locker room of aggressive, hardworking, unselfish individuals, and I believe it’s the individuals in our constructing that give us an amazing likelihood to get again and clearly hopefully win a Tremendous Bowl,” Ryan mentioned.
“We’ve obtained an amazing teaching workers. We’ve obtained a mix of men which might be going to try to put the gamers that now we have in the perfect place to achieve success.”
Ryan didn’t forecast main the league in scoring, though he is aware of the offense is greater than able to being explosive with Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and the remainder of the crew. He didn’t promise the protection could be a top-10 unit or the staff would keep away from the harm bug, as these are elements far past his management. However Ryan is aware of it’s comforting watching guys reminiscent of Freeman, Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen making their manner again from season-ending accidents.
Ryan definitely feels comfy with Dirk Koetter again as his offensive coordinator. (Koetter was the coordinator in Atlanta from 2012 to ’14 earlier than becoming a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015.) The quarterback sees the dedication the staff has made to defending him — Ryan was sacked 42 instances in 2018, the second-highest complete of his profession — with the additions of offensive linemen Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary (each drafted within the first spherical) and free brokers James Carpenter and Jamon Brown.
Ryan additionally absolutely understands competing for a title begins with taking good care of enterprise within the division. The Falcons completed second within the NFC South final season with a disappointing 7-9 document. The New Orleans Saints gained it final 12 months operating away with a 13-Three mark. The Falcons have gained the NFC South 4 instances because it fashioned again in 2002, making it to 1 Tremendous Bowl (2016) over that span.
“It’s at all times robust,” Ryan mentioned of the division. “Drew [Brees] is at all times robust. New Orleans has an amazing offense. They play actually good protection. Cam Jordan is among the greatest gamers within the league on the defensive aspect of the ball.”
Carolina, awaiting Cam Newton’s full restoration from shoulder surgical procedure, additionally completed with a 7-9 mark final season and made some additions this offseason, most notably six-time Professional Bowl defensive sort out Gerald McCoy. He has terrorized inside offensive linemen through the years and could possibly be an enormous check for Lindstrom, projected to be the beginning proper guard.
“Gerald McCoy went from being an issue in a single place to being an issue in one other place,” Ryan mentioned. “Totally different drawback for a distinct staff. He’s an amazing participant that’s been added into an already nice protection. He’s going to be tough to go in opposition to, that’s for certain. He at all times has been.
“Completely he’ll be a check for [Lindstrom], he together with Kawann Quick. The entire group that they’ve, that’s going to be a robust check for our inside guys.”
Ryan gained’t low cost the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who completed 5-11 with Koetter as the pinnacle coach final season however have a brand new boss in Bruce Arians.
“Tampa is hard,” Ryan mentioned. “[Ndamukong] Suh is a veteran participant who performs at a excessive stage that’s an inside drawback for offenses. That’s one other robust man that now we have to go in opposition to.
“On the finish of the day, it’s about us, although. We respect these guys and respect what they do, however our focus is on how good can we play and the way good of a staff can we develop into as a result of now we have all of the items we must be profitable.”
The schedule gained’t make issues any simpler for the Falcons. Six of their first 9 opponents are playoff groups from a 12 months in the past, and 4 of their first six video games are on the street.
“The schedule is what it’s,” Ryan mentioned. “They’re going to offer it to you, and it’s your job to strategy it and take care of it. Apart from principally two video games, it’s slated who you’re going to play relying on division.”
All of it begins Sept. Eight with a recreation at Minnesota in opposition to a Vikings staff that completed 8-7-1 final season and boasted a top-10 scoring protection and top-10 complete protection.
“They’re going to be good,” Ryan mentioned of the Vikings. “That’s a troublesome place. It’s a great protection. It’s going to be loud, which is difficult for our offense. That’s one thing that we’ll need to be ready for and able to go, particularly with it being a gap recreation. Generally, you get a really feel for [noise] because the 12 months goes on, however it’s going to be important for us to be working at a excessive stage after we stand up there as a result of it’s going to take our greatest effort to get a win.”