Philadelphia Eagles News

An Eagles Fan Turned Into The Enemy

The Eagles return home on Sunday to face Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Check out some of the key players to watch.

As quarterback Matt Ryan gains a clear state of mind and a solid routine, the Atlanta Falcons have found success this season to become the top team in the NFC South.

The Falcons have channeled their run game to show proven results as well as having one of the league's top receivers in Julio Jones making noise on the outside. But behind every top-rated offense is a top-rated quarterback.

Approaching Week 10 of the 2016 season, Ryan has recorded a league-best 2,980 passing yards. Now at 6-3, Ryan and the Falcons' offense are first in points with an average of 33.9 and hold the second-place ranking for total yards per game with an average of 429.2 as well as passing yards at 315. Running back Devonta Freeman is Atlanta's leading rusher with 133 carries for 620 yards and three touchdowns.

"If we can get the run game going and get our running backs involved, it makes a defense defend everything," said the Exton, Pennsylvania native and former Penn Charter star. "We've done a good job with that so far this year."

Last season, the Falcons got off to a 5-0 start, but stumbled down the stretch - including a streak of six straight losses - to finish 8-8. Ryan now finds himself in a better state of mind.

"I feel good. That's one of the things. I feel really good. I think (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) has done a really great job this year in terms of our game plan getting us prepared during the week. Other than that, I think we've been comfortable. We've been confident, and we've been making plays," Ryan explained.

Jones has proven to be a vital playmaker for Ryan this season. He leads the league with 970 receiving yards. No one else has reached the 900-yard plateau.

"He does so many things for us. Number one making plays in the passing game and also certain weeks he draws coverages certain ways and creates opportunities for other guys," Ryan expressed.

"He's incredibly unselfish and gives incredible effort in the run game and is one of the top blockers in the league and is incredibly physical. He does so many things for us and his value to our team is huge."

Another influence on the offensive side for Ryan this season is veteran quarterback Matt Schaub, a West Chester, Pennsylvania native who was originally drafted by the Falcons in 2004 (90th overall pick) and returned to where it all began during the 2016 offseason.

"Matt Schaub has been awesome for us this year. He's absolutely another set of eyes. He helps so much during the week in terms of our preparation. He's great on the sideline. He just understands from playing so much and having such a great career and what it takes. He's been a huge addition for us," said Ryan.

After the slide to end the 2015 season, he spent time with former MLB left-handed pitcher Tom House. Ryan sought him out after receiving good recommendations from other players who are over 30 years of age.

"This was the first time I went out and met with Tom and Adam Dedeaux and learned a lot from those guys in terms of training, shoulder training and training your core and your throwing muscles. It was really beneficial and it felt like I was prepared when I got to the season," said Ryan, the former No. 3 overall pick in 2008 who is now 31 years old.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn took note of Ryan's offseason dedication and compared it to the quarterback's 2015 performance.

"I think there's definitely things that are different," Quinn said. "You can talk about a guy who put the work in on the offseason. He had some things that he wanted to get better at through the offseason and that kicked off way back in February ... he's really the one who kicked it into gear for us."

Ryan also credits a routine for staying focused and says "you find it best when you're out there playing."

"Starts on Mondays after games, getting in and watching our previous game and taking notes from that and having a really detailed plan for what you want to work on and improve during the week ... It kind of continues and snowballs throughout the week," Ryan added.

Ryan has thrown four interceptions this season, his most recent one being Week 7 in a loss to the Chargers. The Falcons head to Philadelphia for a 1 p.m. showdown.

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