Matt Ryan headed into Week 1 of the 2018 NFL season on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles with high expectations. The Atlanta Falcons are in their second season with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian leading the way and things were expected to show major improvement right off the bat.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, that wasn’t the case. Atlanta ended up scoring just 12 points in the game and the only touchdown came on a nine-yard run from running back Tevin Coleman.
Following the game, frustration has already been rising surrounding Ryan and the Falcons’ offense. Bleacher Report posted an article soon after the conclusion of the game saying that no one can trust Ryan and the offense once again this season. That may end up being true, but it is way too early to begin the frustration with the veteran quarterback.
Throughout the course of the game, Ryan ended up completing just 21 of his 43 passing attempts for 251 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. Those numbers certainly do not make Falcons’ fans feel confident that their offense will get back on track.
Despite the rough performance from the Falcons on the offensive side of the football, there were still some major positives to be taken away from the game as well.
Julio Jones broke out with a huge performance in the first game of the year. He caught 10 passes for 169 yards. Ryan targeted his superstar wide receiver 19 times throughout the course of the game.
Matt Ryan Red Zone Passing Thursday
0-3, Int targeting Julio Jones
Matt Ryan is 1-20 targeting Jones in the end zone the last 2 seasons including playoffs. pic.twitter.com/yOsqHvsi0D
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 7, 2018
That number in and of itself should be a major win for the Falcons. Jones was lost at times last year in the new offense. Getting him back on track will lead to much better things for Atlanta in 2018.
Just a couple short years ago, Ryan was the NFL MVP. He showed off a big arm and was a playmaking machine. That should not be forgotten simply because he has struggled to be that player in the new offense with Sarkisian calling the plays.
Atlanta may have started the season off rough, but fans should not expect that to continue moving forward. Ryan and Jones appear to be back on track with their chemistry and the defense showed major potential as well against the Eagles. Those two things will put the football in Ryan’s hands much more this season and Sarkisian did showcase a much more aggressive game plan than he had most of last season.
Expect to see Ryan come out firing and looking to prove a point in Week 2 when the Falcons take on the Carolina Panthers. Things may not look great after a tough loss, but it’s way too early to begin showing frustration about Ryan’s first game of the year.