After a less than stellar performance in the season-opener, the Matt Ryan critics have been springing up across the nation. Ryan, who returns to work on Monday, knows he must rebound in time for the NFC South opener against Carolina on Sunday.
Fox Sports commentator Jason Whitlock pronounced he no longer could support Ryan.
Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner questioned the play-calls and structure of the offense in another red zone flame out. The Falcons were 1 of 5 in the red zone and netted just nine points. They had five attempts from at the end of the game and missed on all five passes.
On the Falcons first red zone trip, NFL.com analyst Brian Baldinger pointed out Ryan’s errant throw to Devonta Freeman from a few yards away.
The Washington Post’s NFL writer, John Clayton, wanted to know “is there anything wrong with Ryan?”
The Falcons quarterback, who just won the MVP in 2016, admitted after the 18-12 loss that he had a bad outing.
“I didn’t play well enough,” Ryan said after completing 21 of 43 passes for 251 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
Ryan, who signed a $150 million contract extension in May, finished with a passer rating of 57.4, his second sub-60 performance over his past five regular-season games. He had a 55.2 rating against the Saints in a 20-17 win on Dec. 17, 2017.
It was Ryan’s lowest passer rating in a season-opener of his career. His previously low was 67.6 at Pittsburgh in the 2010 season opener, at 15-9 loss in overtime.
“At the end of the night, it comes down to when you get your chances and you have your guys (open) you’ve to got to hit (them),” Ryan said. “I didn’t do a good job with that (against the Eagles).”
Sub-60 passer ratings are rare for Ryan. He’s only had one sub-60 passer rating in three of the past four seasons with none in 2016. He had three as a rookie in 2008, two in 2009, none in 2010, two in 2011, two in 2012, one in 2013 and two in 2014.
Ryan’s last pass to Jones seemed to be thrown late, which didn’t allow for Jones to have enough room to land in-bounds for a game-winning touchdown.
“I would say probably just like us executing that play at the end, we've got to nail that,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “And so we had the right one on...The read was correct in terms of where we wanted to go, we just didn't execute it. So, that's where we've got work to do.”
The Falcons didn’t want to lean on the obvious explanation, that Jones and Freeman didn’t play any exhibition games and that the timing was off on several plays.
“When you’re facing a defense like that, you have to capitalize on your opportunities,” Ryan said.
The passing attack tilted heavily toward Jones, who had 19 targets. Jones caught 10 for 169 yards with no touchdowns. He had one apparent reception ruled incomplete.
On Ryan’s interception in the red zone, his pass for Jones was short. Jones ran a deeper route.
“For me, that’s the toughest one,” Ryan said. “They go to a cover zero pressure and I tried to put it outside and threw it with too much touch. That’s it.”
Jones had different explanation and may have been trying to protect his quarterback.
“Nothing on Matt,” Jones said. “I thought it was a good ball. I just couldn’t see it.” Jones said he lost the ball in the lights.
Despite all of the misfirings and Ryan not involving the other receivers much, the Falcons still had a chance to pull out the game in the final 1:54.
The Falcons zipped down to the Eagles’ 10-yard line and took their final timeout with 24 seconds left. They had four shots at the end zone and got a fifth after Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks was called for pass interference on fourth-down.
“It was an opportunity where we were going to have four chances into the end zone,” Ryan said. “We couldn’t throw anything in the field because we were too short on clock. We either had to throw the ball out of bounds or get some yardage and get out of bounds or we had to take shots into the end zone.”
Three of the passes were to Jones.
“We didn’t make the plays,” Ryan said. “We had some good calls. Some good opportunities, but we didn’t make them.”