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Knowledge, experience paying off for Falcons QB Ryan

Pro Football Weekly
MVP Meter: Four-man race at midway point
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MVP Meter: Four-man race at midway point

Theories explaining Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s outstanding start to the season are in abundance — he bulked up in the offseason and is stronger in the pocket; he has a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter, who is maximizing Ryan’s potential; the team’s offense is loaded with playmakers at the skill positions and is benefiting from a maturing WR Julio Jones; the offensive line is playing better than it did a season ago.

There is some truth to all of those explanations, and each of them factors into Ryan’s success.

To Falcons C Todd McClure, though, it’s important not to overlook the difference another year of experience makes. McClure has been snapping to Ryan since the first day of Ryan’s professional career, so he has had a unique perspective on the fifth-year quarterback’s development, who has started from Day One.

“I think the biggest thing is just overall knowledge and experience,” McClure recently told PFW. “The more experience you get at doing something, the better you are going to be, the better you can anticipate (something) happen before it actually happens. Going on his fifth year now, he knows the playbook inside and out. He knows what defenses are trying to present to him and he’s able to react quicker just by having the experience. He’s playing at a really high level right now.

“If we can keep him clean, keep him healthy, I think the sky is the limit for our offense.”

However, Ryan — the league’s highest-rated passer — fared well even when he was not kept upright as much as the team would like. The Panthers sacked Ryan seven times in Week Four, and he still had his career-best fourth consecutive game with a passer rating of 100 or better.

So far this season, defenses have yet to find a way to knock Ryan off his game.

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