clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Analyzing Matt Ryan's Interceptions And What Went Wrong on Each One

New, comments

Ryan has thrown twelve interceptions on the season, and Scott Carasik takes a look at each one and determines whether the pick was a bad throw, bad read, or terrific play by a defender.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown 12 interceptions through the first 11 games of the 2015 season. This has him on pace for 17 interceptions on the season, which would match his career worst year. His five over the past two weeks has been a cause for concern, as some would say he's regressed as a passer because of them.

His interceptions can be broken down into multiple different categories. The first will be just a good play by the defense that was an insane read by a linebacker, or just a great athletic play that no one can truly account for.The second and most obvious one will be just a bad read of the defense by Ryan. Finally, the last three categories will be Hail Marys—which are prayers anyway—ones that have bounced off of a receiver's hands, and bad throws, which are self-explanatory.

Vs. Eagles No. 1

2nd and Goal at PHI 8

(5:50 - 1st) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass short middle intended for R.White INTERCEPTED by K.Alonso at PHI 0. Touchback

Matt Ryan dropped back and surveyed the defense. From where Kiko Alonso was on the field and where Roddy White was, it was the right read. Ryan even put the ball on a trajectory that was heading right to Roddy's chest on a spot in the end zone. Alonso stuck his hand up, grabbed the ball and just made an insane play that 99% of linebackers just can't make. This was just a great play by the defender.

Verdict: Great Defensive Play

Vs. Eagles No. 2

3rd and 14 at ATL 12

(13:25 - 3rd) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass deep middle intended for R.White INTERCEPTED by W.Thurmond at ATL 31. W.Thurmond to ATL 8 for 23 yards (A.Levitre)

Matt Ryan made a horrible read, here. It was his first real game in the offense, but there's no excuse for this play. He tried to look off Walter Thurmond, but wound up making it obvious that he was throwing to Roddy White. Thurmond jumps the route and brings it back to the Falcons 8-yard line. Ryan made a bad read because White would have been double covered on the play and didn't have a good alley to throw through.

Verdict: Bad Read

Vs. Washington No. 1

2nd and 10 at WSH 40

(10:36 - 1st) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass deep middle intended for J.Jones INTERCEPTED by T.Robinson at WAS 17. T.Robinson to WAS 25 for 8 yards (T.Coleman)

Julio Jones was open in the middle of two zones. He had a safety five yards behind him and a linebacker three yards in front of him. Ryan made the right read to see Jones open and made the throw. Unfortunately, he didn't set his feet and the ball sailed on him. Trenton Robinson was there to catch the ball thrown right at him. Ryan should have thrown the ball more towards the center of the field to avoid an interception and lead Jones to the catch.

Verdict: Bad Throw

Vs. Washington No. 2

1st and 10 at ATL 35

(5:44 - 4th) M.Ryan pass short left intended for R.White INTERCEPTED by B.Breeland at ATL 49. B.Breeland to ATL 21 for 28 yards (T.Coleman)

Roddy White had a step on Bashaud Breeland on a crossing route across the field. Unfortunately, Ryan never set his feet and the Falcons quarterback made a horrible throw that was easily intercepted by Breeland. If Ryan throws it a bit farther up field, Roddy might have had a shot on the ball and the Falcons would have had a first down in a crucial situation.

Verdict: Bad Throw

Vs. Titans No. 1

2nd and 10 at ATL 37

(8:56 - 2nd) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass short left intended for T.Coleman INTERCEPTED by D.Bass at ATL 27. D.Bass to ATL 19 for 8 yards (J.Matthews)

Matt Ryan tries to throw a screen pass to Tevin Coleman, and David Bass not only tips it, but catches it off of his deflection. At first, you think that it's a good defensive play, but upon further review, Bass had no business even tipping this ball. Ryan should have put some air under the ball to make sure that Bass couldn't have tipped it out of the passing lane in the first place.

Verdict: Bad Throw

Vs. Titans No. 2

4th and Goal at TEN 1

(6:38 - 4th) M.Ryan pass short middle intended for J.Tamme INTERCEPTED by A.Williamson (M.Huff) at TEN -4. Touchback

After a play-action, Ryan dropped back for the throw and targeted Jacob Tamme. Marqueston Huff read the play well and made a great play on the ball to tip it. Tamme still had a shot after the tip, but Avery Williamson made a great play to catch the ball before Tamme could have it fall on him. This one wasn't an amazing pass or a great read, but overall, it was a good defensive play that led to the interception more than anything else.

Verdict: Great Defensive Play

Vs. Buccaneers

3rd and 5 at TB 44

(1:23 - 2nd) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass short middle intended for J.Tamme INTERCEPTED by K.Alexander at TB 35. K.Alexander to 50 for 15 yards (J.Hardy)

Matt Ryan dropped back and surveyed the field and saw Jacob Tamme sitting between three guys in a zone. He still thought it was a good idea to throw it to Tamme for whatever reason. This was just a bad read by Ryan. There was no throw that he could have made that could have forgiven what a horrible read this was.

Verdict: Bad Read

Vs. Colts No. 1

3rd and 6 at IND 12

(9:30 - 1st) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass deep middle intended for R.White INTERCEPTED by D.Lowery at IND -5. Touchback. The Replay Official reviewed the incomplete pass ruling, and the play was Upheld. The ruling on the field stands

Ryan dropped back and saw Roddy White over the middle and threw it a little high to try and prevent a tip. Clayton Geathers tipped it anyway with a great defensive play. Then Dwight Lowery caught the ball in the end zone on an acrobatic "catch." This one shouldn't have been ruled an interception. The ball hit the ground and moved and Lowery didn't have enough control of it to have it be considered a catch. But the refs jobbed the Falcons here.

Verdict: Great Defensive Play, Shouldn't have been ruled an interception

Vs. Colts No. 2

1st and 10 at ATL 1

(10:07 - 4th) D'Qwell Jackson 6 Yrd Interception Return A.Vinatieri extra point is Good

After a play-action, Ryan took just a couple steps back and threw it to a spot that a running back or receiver would normally be. Ryan either overthrew where a running back would be or underthew the crossing route to Jacob Tamme. But even worse, neither throw would have been open. This was just a cluster of multiple levels of awfulness all on the same play. The biggest issue with it was the horrible read after the play-fake.

Verdict: Bad Read

Vs. Colts No. 3

4th and 3 at ATL 39

(0:00 - 4th) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass deep right intended for J.Hardy INTERCEPTED by C.Fleener at IND 10. C.Fleener to IND 12 for 2 yards (J.Hardy)

The video doesn't even really matter on this play. Ryan tried to get the ball to anyone. He was off during the second half of the game. The Falcons had no business being in a Hail Mary situation in the first place. But that's irrelevant. Ryan threw up a prayer like any other Hail Mary play out there, and it was intercepted like they are on around half of Hail Mary plays.

Verdict: Hail Mary

Vs. Vikings No. 1

2nd and 3 at MIN 43

(1:24 - 2nd) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass deep middle intended for N.Williams INTERCEPTED by C.Munnerlyn at MIN 27. C.Munnerlyn to MIN 25 for -2 yards (N.Williams)

Ryan dropped back and threw the ball behind Nick Williams which Captain Munnerlyn jumped and intercepted. At first, the throw looks like the responsibility, but it was an even worse read. Williams had a very poor double move that failed to draw Munnerlyn outside and then Ryan threw it into a triple coverage over the middle of the field. The bad read was a bigger reason for this horrible interception than anything else.

Verdict: Bad Read

Vs. Vikings No. 2

3rd and Goal at MIN 14

(7:59 - 3rd) (Shotgun) M.Ryan pass short left intended for J.Tamme INTERCEPTED by T.Newman at MIN 0. Touchback

As it starts, Ryan feels pressure and rolls to the left side of the field. He sees Roddy White and Jacob Tamme in the end zone open and lobs the ball up there. While Ryan should have put more umph on the ball, Tamme and White should have also put some effort into catching it. That being said, the throw was just bad as it was a true lob. In the future, Ryan either needs to set and throw or throw that one out of the back of the end zone and take the points.

Verdict: Bad Throw

Overall

Bad Reads: 4

Bad Throws: 4

Great Defensive Plays: 3

Receiver Responsibility: 0

Hail Marys: 1

Two-thirds of Ryan's interceptions come from either bad reads or bad throws. That's not what you want to see from a franchise quarterback. One of the interceptions is completely forgivable because it's a Hail Mary. The other three that were great defensive plays are a combination of a not-perfect throw from Ryan and a defender just making a ridiculous play.

Bad reads are a problem, but are also something that should go away with more time in the offense. It's Ryan's first year with the West Coast passing concepts and terminology, and he's just now starting to get enough understanding of the offense to incorporate kill calls. He should improve his reads as the season progresses. The bad throws are something every quarterback makes at times, whether we like that or not.

Four bad reads have completely changed the view of a quarterback within his own fan base, in other words. Those will turn around, though. Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reported that Ryan and Kyle Shanahan are having discussions behind closed doors about what should change with the offense. However, the most telling quote came from Shanahan,

"If he likes something a lot and he's good at it -- whether it makes sense or not -- usually he can make it work. It's about believing in things. It's a process, especially going through the first year together. But, I do think we do get better at it each week. I'm going to continue to do that the entire time I'm with him."

The first year of the offense is going to have it's hitches. As Shanahan notes, it's about going through the process and turning out improvement every time out there. Ryan hasn't had his best year, but there is still a way to turn it around. As Ryan gets more comfortable in the offense, he should see his interceptions drop and touchdowns rise—especially in the red zone.

However, not having his ideal targets have also hurt the offense. Missing Devonta Freeman as a dump off the past two weeks hasn't helped Ryan's production here either, and getting both Freeman and Devin Hester back should help the offense progress from where it's at today. Long term, the Falcons need to get Ryan a more reliable No. 2 wide receive and ensure Ryan's comfortable in this offense.