Why Matt Ryan's Week 6 Regression an Ominous Sign for Atlanta Falcons Super Bowl
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was due for a terrible game and showed it in Week 6 versus the Oakland Raiders. However, it wasn't expected to be a bad game for him with the Raiders' defense ranking towards the bottom of the league coming into the game.
He laid an egg against a terrible defense, going 24-for-37 (64.9 percent) for 249 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. The biggest issue is that in the first half, every time Ryan and the offense looked like they had a rhythm, the interceptions would come and cancel out all momentum they had.
Was this just a bad day for Matt Ryan?
In a review of the three interceptions, they all looked avoidable. The initial interception was a short crossing route over the middle that was intended for Harry Douglas and was telegraphed by Ryan. The second interception was a throw to Julio Jones in triple coverage and just a bad read.
The final interception was a play that Ryan should have either taken the sack or thrown the ball away. Sure, Ryan was hit as he threw the ball, but you can't make that throw if you are an NFL quarterback. The game looked very uncharacteristic.
He had thrown few bad passes heading into this game. It looks like it was a terrible day at the office for the potential MVP candidate. The biggest question is whether these same issues will pop up in the future.
...Or could it be regression to the mean?
In 2011, Ryan had a four games that he threw two interceptions in. Of those four games, he threw for just one touchdown in three of them, and the Falcons went 1-2 in games that he threw for one touchdown and two picks.
This year, he started the season with three picks in five games and was due for a game that would lead him back to his three interceptions for every four games career average. This was a bad day, but it could mean that Ryan is going to be much more consistent this season.
...Or is it that the Raiders had two weeks to prepare their defense for Ryan?
The Falcons play three teams coming off of their bye weeks this season. They've played Oakland at home, they get the Eagles in Philadelphia and Arizona Cardinals in Atlanta. The Eagles game doesn't matter as much, as both teams have their bye going in.
The Raiders' defense looked much improved from any game this season. A lot of that has to do with their extra week of preparation. They ran defensive coverages that Ryan hadn't seen all year and forced him into errors.
How does it impact a possible Super Bowl for the Falcons?
When it comes to the Super Bowl hopes for the Falcons, this gives the blueprint for how to beat the Falcons. It shows that if you can pound the rock, control the clock and play great pass defense, the team will have trouble beating you.
However, it also shows that the Falcons have resiliency and resolve to come back in any situation. This season is very reminiscent of 2010, which had multiple late-game comebacks and finishes that lead the team to a 13-3 record.
However, unlike that 2010 team, the Falcons should be able to find the formula to win a playoff game this season. The Super Bowl is still a long shot if the team continues to play like they have the past three weeks.
Matt Ryan is still one of the best quarterbacks in football. He's thrown six interceptions over the Falcons' last four games. But as is his norm, Ryan has three or four bad games every year. This was just one of them.
So stop flipping out. The Falcons aren't likely to go 16-0 in the regular season. Nor should they. However, this is the best team since 1998, and while Ryan has some issues that could prevent a Super Bowl victory or even appearance, the Falcons should win a playoff game this season.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.
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