Welcome to the dead period of the NFL offseason. Let the countdown begin until it’s over with.
Last offseason, I wrote a series of Throwback Thursday articles looking back at some of the most memorable moments in Atlanta Falcons history. That series culminated with an article looking back at the time newly minted General Manager Thomas Dimitroff drafted Matt Ryan with the third overall pick. Here’s how that specific article concluded:
As you may or may not have noticed, there wasn’t a single one of these articles which was dedicated to any moment in the Matt Ryan era; that was by design. In this upcoming offseason, I hope to write a series of “Matty Ice Moments” articles, which look back on nothing but moments in the Matt Ryan era.
Well, that time has come — welcome to the “Matty Ice Moments” series. This will be a series of articles dedicated to looking back on Matt Ryan-centric moments, in an attempt to help distract us from the dead period a little bit.
And if you don’t like Matt Ryan and think that we’re focusing on him too much this offseason, then that’s just too bad I guess.
Without further ado:
Matt Ryan’s first professional pass and his first professional game:
The Atlanta Falcons were not supposed to be that good in 2008. After a rough 2007 which landed star quarterback Michael Vick in federal prison and now disgraced head coach Bobby Petrino on the midnight train to Arkansas, the Falcons weren’t expected to make so much progress from the 4-12 team they featured in ‘07.
Matt Ryan stepped into an unfair situation for himself as Atlanta’s third overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft — the fanbase was divided over whether or not to even select him over the likes of Glenn Dorsey, and when he was selected, he was immediately asked to fill the shoes of arguably the league’s most electrifying player in Vick.
Ryan stepped up and answered the call immediately. He beat out veteran Chris Redman for the team’s starting QB role in the preseason, and then he made quite the first impression when the Detroit Lions came to town in Week 1.
Ryan’s first professional pass was a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins, and it set the tone for the rest of the game and the entire 2008 season.
In the blink of an eye the Falcons opened up a 21-0 lead in the first quarter, scoring a touchdown on each of their first three drives. Ryan played his part, but the offense rolled on the back of star running back Michael Turner, the way it would all season.
The Lions would bring it back to within a one-score game at halftime, with a 14-0 second quarter flurry, but the Birds would pull away in the second half.
Matt Ryan finished the game 9 of 13 for 161 passing yards, one touchdown pass, and no turnovers. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was sufficient, as Turner would rush for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
The Detroit Lions ended up having a tumultuous season, becoming the first team in NFL history to go winless in a 16-game campaign. That first game in Atlanta was a sign of things to come for both teams.
Matt Ryan had officially arrived.