Every week before the Falcons game, I'll be selecting one player to keep an especially close eye on. This week, it's quarterback Matt Ryan.
Opportunistic secondary, meet Matty Ice.
This is the quintessential field test for the Matt Ryan we're all hoping is permanent, the one who stands tall in the pocket and throws nice passes and displays cojones the size of autumn watermelons. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers offer an anemic pass rush but more opportunities for picks than a life-sized model of Cyrano de Bergnac's nose, so the onus will be on Ryan to make accurate throws today.
On the year, we've seen some exceptional games (Cincinnati, New Orleans) and some subpar ones (San Francisco, Pittsburgh) from our young quarterback. In most of those bad games, he was facing competent pass rushes, so on paper this is a very nice matchup for Ryan. I like to think a good performance here will show us how much he's grown. Of course, there's always the possibility that the improbably named Stylez White will crush Sam Baker and turn Ryan into a puddle of goo. That wouldn't be so good.
Reasonable expectations? Let's say 230 yards, 2 touchdowns and one pick. Those seem safe.
Keep your eyeballs on Matt Ryan.