Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is one of the brightest young stars in the NFL. Since 2008, Ryan's rookie season, only Peyton Manning has won more games at the quarterback position. However, in each of the last three seasons, Ryan's Falcons has suffered double-digit losses to birds of a different, greener, feather – the Eagles.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, the 6-foot-5 signal-caller grew up bleeding Eagles green, but now his focus is on beating the team he idolized as a child.
"Lining up against your hometown team is always a little unique," admitted Ryan. "But I've been in the league for four years now, and I've gotten into the routine of playing different teams every week. I now understand how important every game on the schedule is. As time goes on, the Eagles start to become just like any other opponent."
Ryan's one-tim allegiance to the Eagles is not the only thing that he wants to put in the past. Following a devastating 30-12 season-opening loss to the Bears in which Ryan and the offense could not muster a single touchdown, he's looking to move on going into week two.
"We all understand that we didn't put our best effort out there last Sunday," said the four-year veteran. "We didn't play up to the level that we're capable of playing. When you suffer a setback, you just have to put it behind you and learn from it. That's what we're doing."
Ryan's words carry weight, as his team was able to string together eight straight wins after a two touchdown loss to the Eagles in Week 6 of last season. But as much as the Falcons are hoping their offense can bounce back from this most-recent loss the same way they did last season, Philadelphia's revamped defense will pose a formidable challenge.
"The Eagles pass rush is very solid up front," said Ryan. "Trent Cole is a guy we've faced before and he's a great player. This is a team that looked really good when we turned on the tape this week. They have a lot of different looks in their arsenal and they have the talent on the defensive side of the ball to make plays."
This should be one of the better matchups of the first two weeks of the NFL season, with two potential division winners squaring off in primetime. The Eagles are hoping they'll be able to handle Ryan and his Falcons the same way they have in each of their last three meetings. With the slew of talent on this Eagles defense, it's hard not to be confident that they will.