Preseason Overreaction, Week 1: Matt Ryan is the No. 3 QB (kidding!)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throws an incomplete pass under pressure from Washington linebacker Preston Smith to go three and out in the first quarter of Thursday night's exhibition game. (Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan throws an incomplete pass under pressure from Washington linebacker Preston Smith to go three and out in the first quarter of Thursday night’s exhibition game. (Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com)

If the first exhibition game is any indication, Matt Ryan is going to have a really difficult time beating out Sean Renfree for the No. 2 quarterback job … behind starter Matt Schaub.

Me: “You’re dropping on the depth chart.”

Ryan: “Already? After one game?”

Me: “Hey, I’m just looking at numbers.”

Ryan: “Yeah. It happens.”

The Falcons defeated Washington 23-17 at the Georgia Dome. I know this because they handed out final box scores in the press box, and I had pretty much blacked out after the six-minute mark Thursday night, after which I passed out face first in a plate of nachos.

So here’s what everybody was screaming about on social media . Ryan went 0-for-4 on two possessions. If you go strictly by numbers — and why not, because I’m told by the analytics world that numbers don’t lie — he was the Falcons’ fourth-best quarterback.

Statistics from Meaningless NFL Full Retail Schlock, Week 1:

• Schaub: 10 for 15, 179 yards, long of 68 yards, rating of 107.4. He also had a would-be touchdown pass dropped by Devonta Freeman.

• Sean Renfree: 5 for 9, 101 yards, long of 48 yards, rating of 95.1.

• Matt Simms: 0 for 3.

• Matt Ryan: 0 for 4.

The Falcons’ first possession started on the half-yard line. On first down, a hurried Ryan underthrew to Julio Jones. On  second down, Freeman carried for three yards. On third and long, Ryan overthrew Jones under pressure (a quasi throw-away).

Ryan: “We have to do a better job situationally of punching that out, getting it outside the 10-yard line. So we can at least play the field position game. But in the preseason it’s a good experience to have, get one of those and learn from it, adjust from it. Hopefully we’ll be more productive next time.”

Ryan also went 0-for-2 on the second possession. One attempt was a deep pass to Mohamed Sanu, who appeared to be interfered with (no call). The second was another rushed poor throw to Aldrick Robinson. Ryan went down on that play and Dan Quinn decided correctly there was no reason to risk an injury. His night was done.

The starting quarterback — yes, still — isn’t panicking.

“The biggest thing in preseason game one is just to knock that rust off,” Ryan said. “It’s nice to get in the pocket, feel the movement around you again and look to make big strides from Week 1 to Week 2.”

I realize after last season that everybody is just itching to jump Ryan and/or offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

But really: This … means … nothing.

WAIT, HIS RATING IS…WHAT? In case you needed further illustration why the “quarterback efficiency rating” is the dumbest statistic in the world, here it is: Ryan went 0-for-4 but his rating was 39.6. Why is that? I don’t know. But you can go to the rating calculate here at PrimeComputing.com and type in 0-for-1 or 0-for-100 and it will still compute to 39.58333. The passer rating goes from 0 to 158.3 (I know) but the only way to get a 0 is to not attempt a pass.

Here’s the passer rating formula, via well-places sources on Google images.

eq15

And now, I’m going to stab myself with a fork.

SCHAUB LOOKED GOOD: The former and once again Falcons looked good in his first unofficial game back with the team since 2006. (He was traded to Houston after the season because the Falcons had Michael Vick, problem being that Vick then got into some sort of legal jam and, well, the rest is inglorious history.) Any way, Schaub will be the likely backup this season and he threw the ball well Thursday. He also showed some nice chemistry with wide receiver Aldrick Robinson. The two hooked up for a 47-yarder to set up a field goal and a 68-yarder to set up a touchdown.

It turns out there’s a reason Schaub and Robinson looked good together. Schaub: “Last year in Baltimore, Aldrick was with us all through the offseason and training camp so I worked with him a lot and we just picked up where we left off. I was definitely comfortable with him.”

I AM HEREBY STARTING THE . . . “J.D. McKissick MUST Make The Roster Campaign.” You want a kick return threat? You want more speed on special teams? You want a player who can provide entertainment between potential three-and-outs on offense? Problems solved! McKissick, an undrafted free agent from Arkansas State provided the most excitement of the game with a 101-yard kickoff return to open the second half. He completed his return with a mid-air somersault into the end zone. Take that, Simone Biles. McKissick actually caught a ton of passes in college, but he dropped a short pass from Matt Simms in the fourth quarter. The best he probably can hope for is to be kept on the practice squad.

WHEN AN INCOMPLETION LOOKS BAD: Cornerback Akeem King got beat by Redskins tight end Vernon Davis in the corner of the end zone but Davis dropped the would-be 23-yard completion from Colt McCoy. Then King accepted congratulations from a teammate. But I’m pretty sure there won’t be any congratulations in the film room.

AND ABOUT KEITH MARSHALL: The former Georgia running back, who never returned to form after a serious knee injury early in his college career, is in camp with Washington after being drafted in the seventh round. His first preseason game wasn’t good: five carries for a net of minus-1 yard and a long of three. He’s climbing a hill.

EARLIER: Julio Jones rarely lost at Alabama. He’s tired of losing with the Falcons.

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10 comments
DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

Speaking of Schaub and Vick, did you see Bobby Petrino found himself in another nice embarrassing situation?  Can't happen to a nicer scumbag.

Zapp
Zapp

Schaub had some outstanding years with Houston, but their sorry offensive line caused him to lose his confidence.  If he's own, he can play very good.  Whether there's competition between him and Ryan, the thought will always be there that he can play major league football.  I thought Ryan's confidence was shaky last year, so this year he best not begin the season that way.  No matter anyone's opinion, Schaub is here to ensure the team has a chance if Ryan is injured.

TOJacket
TOJacket

We can at least breath a little easier now if our #1 Matt goes down and is replaced by #2 Matt......whichever is which?

Big Wally
Big Wally

Big improvement over last year for Ryan.  He didn't throw any red zone interceptions.  Of course he didn't get them anywhere near the red zone, but hey, you can't have everything.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

Hey Schultz.  Regarding the passer rating.  


The numerator stuff makes some sense: add the good stuff (completions, TDs, yards) per attempt then subtract the bad stuff (INTs per attempt).  Not sure what all the weighting factors mean, but OK.  


Then you divide all that by 6 (WTF?).  Then multiply by 100.  I guess that just makes the product look prettier by moving the decimal over.



I ran the formula based on Matty's 0 for 4 performance.  It yielded  a rating of     2.08333333.


Party over here! 



SouthernHope5
SouthernHope5

Sigh.


101-yard-return for that special teams player...and a mere 6 hours later, the word on the street: "all he can hope for is a spot on the practice squad." 



JSSN
JSSN

Thank goodness for the Olympics, that flag and missed assignment fest was abysmal!

JSSN
JSSN

@TOJacket

Drops, penalties (and I don't mean by the folks trying to make the team), and assignments blown galore. Two teams with over 200 yards in penalties (25). Both teams stunk it up. I give Robinson credit for cutting across the face on the underthrow. But that should have been a pick, just like Ryan's throw into double coverage in the flat was lucky not to be have been an INT-Pick 6. Oh, nobody in the 6 games came close to amassing the penalty yardage of the cluster muck in the GA Dome!