What Matt Ryan had to say Wednesday


Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan addressed the media Wednesday. Here’s what he had to say:

On the return to form of Chiefs pass rusher Justin Houston

“Perfect timing, right? He played really well the other night, obviously. I’m sure everybody watched part of that game and he dominated the first half. He’s a great player, there’s no getting around it. We will have to account for where he is at. But they are really solid in the front seven and specifically the defensive line across the board. So we are going to have our work cut out for us. We’ve played a lot of good fronts this year so I think we are tested, battle-tested, so hopefully we will have a really good plan and be ready to go.”

On the impact of center Alex Mack on the offensive line

“Alex has been great for us. Our offensive line in general has done a really good job this year playing consistent and tough week in and week out. The combination of adding a player like Alex—who is really, really talented, a very hard worker, dedicated during the week—you add that to both our right guard and right tackle playing next to one another for the second year in a row and our left guard and left tackle playing next to each other the second year in a row. I think that continuity helps, as well.”

On if Falcons do any extra preparation for ball security because Chiefs are plus-12 in turnover margin

“I don’t think so. For us, that’s been a point of emphasis from OTAs. We work on that every day in terms of taking care of the ball on offense, making good decisions with the ball at the quarterback position. And then on the defensive side of the ball, they fly away and try to get that thing out as much as they can every day. I think we prepare each other really, really well during practice and for the most part protecting the ball this year.”

On when he first realized wide receiver Taylor Gabriel could help the team

“The first day. He came in for a Monday practice, he came in, you could tell he could run. He could run routes. He was probably further ahead than most people realized after playing in the system with Kyle (Shanahan) in Cleveland for a year. He knew some of the things that we were doing. There were a few changes that took a while, but I think everybody could tell from Day One he was going to be a guy who can help us in some way because he has such great speed and quickness and that’s something we can use.”

On how Gabriel’s big game affecting how opponents game plan vs. Falcons

“I don’t know. I think you have to account for a lot of guys when you play us. That’s the fun part of playing quarterback when you have a lot of really good players at a lot of positions. I think it makes it difficult for a defense to key in to certain spots. I think Kyle has done a great job all year of spreading the ball around and putting guys in position to succeed and playing to guys strengths. That’s been some really good coaching on his part.”

On if he makes a conscience effort to spread the ball around to eight, nine receivers each game

“Honestly, I have no idea how many guys catch the ball until Brian (Cearns of Falcons media relations) tells me before I go to the podium after the game. I don’t think about it too much. It’s one of those things when the plays come in, it’s something we’ve worked on all week as far as where we want to go with the ball against certain coverages, man matchups, whatever, and that’s what I try to do and go to the right spot with the ball. When you have good enough players at all of the spots, you stop thinking about it as a quarterback. That’s what I’ve been able to do it this year.”

On Chiefs safety Eric Berry

“He’s playing awesome. Extremely physical, has a great knack for getting after the ball, doesn’t shy away from the ball. He’s playing as good as he ever has and I’m really happy for him.”

On second-year Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters

“This has been the first time studying their defense, and he’s good as advertised. He’s a good player. Very instinctual , breaks on the ball, has great ball skills, catches it as well as wide receivers do. He’s playing really well. You wouldn’t know if he’s in year eight or year two. He plays with a lot of confidence.”

On Chiefs defense giving up a lot of yards but not a lot of points

“Not giving up a lot of points and taking the ball away are probably the two most important things on defense. I don’t spend a whole lot of time looking at their stats. I look at the film and watch them. I think it’s a talented defense. They are adding one of their best players (Houston) back into the mix in terms of the pass rush, that makes them more difficult to go against.”

On Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe

“He’s a really good player, physical. Our interior guys, they are going to have to play well going against him in the run game. That’s big, strong, physical player. Like I said, across the board, I think it’s one of the better d-lines we’ve seen and we’ve seen some good ones this year.”

On the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta emblem on his cleats and the NFL’s decision to allow players to show support in that way

“I think it’s a great opportunity for guys to be able to showcase things that are important to them off the field. For myself and Sarah, my wife, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has been important to us since we came to Atlanta. I think anybody who has lived here knows just how important they are to this community. I remember going there in my rookie year during a visit and after that saying, ‘How can I help out?’ We’ve done a pretty good job the last seven or eight years trying to raise as much money as we can three times a year through a golf tournament and then a dinner during the season to try to help them in any way we can… . I think it’s cool that the NFL is doing it and allowing guys to showcase that and I’ll be proudly wearing mine on Sunday.”


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