Matt Ryan understood the need to play better as the Atlanta Falcons started the season with five straight losses, firing their coach and general manager and not getting a vote of confidence from the owner.
Ryan, a one-time NFL MVP who has 1,472 passing yards, seven touchdown passes and three interceptions this season, has seemingly kept his end of the bargain. But team owner Arthur Blank said after the latest personnel moves that he wants the future general manger to give the franchise direction.
“Forever, the line in the locker room has been that we rent these lockers,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You have to go out and pay that rent and earn your spot day in and day out. That’s regardless of if you’re in Year 1 or Year 13 or wherever, that’s our responsibility as players, all of the time, to go out there and perform. That’s what we are paid to do.”
Atlanta started 1-7 last season but ended up finishing 7-9. Ryan said he realizes what’s at stake after a poor season – a high draft pick that could end up being a franchise-changer.
“I can’t worry about that yet,” he said. “It’s not like we’re making this transition and it’s the end of December. We’re in the middle of October, and we have 11 games in front of us.
“Worrying about those things is going to distract us, as players, from what we need to do. That’s prepare ourselves and get ready for the Minnesota Vikings this weekend. I’m sure that they are not all that concerned with how we are going to rebuild or restructure our organization moving forward. They are trying to get a win this Sunday.”
Ryan has not thrown a touchdown pass since the Falcons played the Chicago Bears on Sept. 27. Of course, not having Julio Jones hurts, but the wide receiver hasn’t been the healthiest in the last few years of his career.
The Falcons play the Vikings on Sunday. Minnesota is 1-4 and is 27th in points allowed and 26th in yards allowed. There’s no better chance for the Falcons to get the monkey off their back than this week.