By Danny O’Neil
“Person of Interest” is a weekly feature in which we put the microscope on one player from the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent. This week, it’s Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.
Matt Ryan has thrown seven interceptions over the Falcons’ last two games. (AP)
• Position: Franchise quarterback, the Falcons’ only hope
• Height: 6-4
• Weight: 217
• Age: 28
• Experience: Sixth season
The quarterback with two first names has only one career playoff victory, but he’s never had a losing season since entering the league in 2008. At least not until this year as the Falcons are 2-6 and will need a downright historic turnaround to save their season.
Ryan, however, had one of the best starts to any season in his career. At least he did until he was picked off seven times over the past two games in road losses to Arizona and then Carolina. He is on five quarterbacks in the league to have been picked off 10 or more times so far this season.
Ryan’s recent struggles may be due to the lack of options in the passing game, though. Julio Jones is done for the season, a foot injury ending what was looking like a career year after just five games. Roddy White has been inactive the past three weeks, and when he was playing earlier this year, he wasn’t nearly as effective as he has been.
The Falcons are averaging a league-low 64.4 yards rushing, which means that Atlanta’s best bet on offense is throwing straight into the teeth of Seattle’s defense: its secondary.
The Seahawks failed to sack Ryan in last year’s divisional playoff loss, but they did have two interceptions against him, including one by free safety Earl Thomas. The Falcons may be 2-6, but don’t think the Seahawks are underestimating the challenge Ryan presents.
“He’s very smart,” Thomas said of Ryan. “You could tell he prepares well, so my whole mindset is how well I can prepare. Better than him? It’s not a cat-and-mouse game, but the quarterback’s always trying to take advantage of what I do because they always study me. I know they do. Because I’m the free safety and I can kind of give away what we’re doing.
“So I’m just excited [for] the challenge. I’m still going to prepare better this time. That’s how I’m taking it.”