Matt Ryan vs. Vikings secondary
Much like Julio Jones, the other half of the Falcons’ air attack has been fueled by quarterback Matt Ryan. After an off-year in 2017, Ryan regained the form that led him to the NFL MVP award in 2016, throwing for 4,924 yards, 35 touchdowns, and seven interceptions last season.
Just that performance alone should put the Vikings on high alert. During his press conference on Wednesday, Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer noted the quarterback’s body of work that has produced a Hall of Fame-caliber career so far.
"“Well, he’s got a great arm. He’s really accurate, he’s really smart, he’s a really good competitor. I think the other part, he moves pretty well. I mean I wouldn’t call him an elusive runner, but he moves in the pocket and he’s got a lot of weapons. He’s always been a tough matchup. He’s a terrific quarterback.”"
The interesting part about Ryan this time around is the reuniting with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. During his previous stint with Atlanta, Koetter was the coach that took the chains off of Ryan after operating in a run-oriented offense centered around Michael Turner at the beginning of his career.
The change resulted in a pair of Pro Bowl appearances for Ryan, who threw for 13,928 yards, 86 touchdowns and 45 interceptions under Koetter. With the duo having previous success, it’s fair to wonder what kind of season Ryan could have in his current state that includes having a top receiver tandem in Julio Jones and the emerging Calvin Ridley.
As with most teams, Ryan is the quarterback that can elevate the play of his teammates around him. The Vikings’ secondary wound up as a top-10 unit last year, but with the lack of depth to start the season, stopping the Falcons quarterback has to be a top priority.