Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, September 23, 2009.
Q: What has been the key to your success down there in getting comfortable and getting off to a fast start?
MR: I think the biggest thing is both our offensive line and defensive line have played really well in the first two weeks, and when you can get some push up front on both sides of the ball that helps. We try and ride that and I think that's been the reason why we've been successful the first two weeks of the season.
Q: In your second season, what has been the biggest change or the biggest improvement in your own game?
MR: I think just week to week preparation has gotten better. I have a better feel for what it takes, how to set up my schedule, what's important, what's not important, and I feel like I do a better job during the week of getting ready to play on Sunday.
Q: When you were here, did you root for the Patriots?
MR: No. You know what, I grew up a Philadelphia Eagles fan, so I always was an Eagles fan until I came to the Falcons.
Q: Do you have any interaction with any of the guys here while you were at BC? I know you weren't exactly in the same city, but did your paths cross at all?
MR: Not really. The only guy on the team that I really am familiar with is Ron Brace. I played with him at BC. That's pretty much it. I never really ran into any of those guys while I was up there.
Q: Speaking of Ron Brace, he says he hasn't talked to you and doesn't have your phone number. A) are you shutting him out and B) can I give him your phone number?
MR: Yeah, I've since changed numbers so that's probably why Ron's having trouble getting in touch. I'll be excited to see him this weekend.
Q: Will you?
MR: Well, hopefully not in the backfield. But I'll be excited to just say hello and keep in touch because Ron was a good teammate and a good friend when I was at BC.
Q: Can you talk about the acquisition of Tony Gonzalez and how that has made your offense evolve?
MR: He's really helped us out a bunch. I think that any time you add a great player to your team, it's obviously going to help. And not only is he really good on Sundays, he's great during the week. He knows how to prepare and he works really hard and I think that permeates down through the locker room. Other guys see what it takes to be at that level and try and do some of the things that he's done, so he's really helped out a bunch.
Q: Have you noticed a change in your ability to lead the team and be a vocal leader this year?
MR: You know, it's a little different. I think any time you've been around a situation for longer, you become more comfortable with your role on the team. I feel more comfortable than I did last year, but that comes with playing the position. You have to take on some leadership qualities, just as a result of the position you play. I definitely feel more comfortable with it this year, though.
Q: From dealing with you at Boston College, I know that confidence has always been your forte, but even as confident as you are, has your success in less than two years surprised even you?
MR: No, not really. I think...it's tough, because you don't know what to expect coming into the NFL, but that was last season. I think this year, having a year under my belt, you have to expect yourself to go out and play well. That's kind of the culture we set around here. Guys expect themselves to perform well on Sunday. I'm just a part of that.
Q: You set the bar pretty high when you made your first pass a 65-yard touchdown. Did people come to expect that every pass?
MR: I hope not. Nobody can live up to those expectations, but it was a fast start to last year. That was good for our team, no question about it. But with that said, there were ups and downs for myself last year and I think I learned from both of them. That will make me a better player this year.
Q: I know it's only two games in, but have you seen defenses change the way they attack you in the pass game this year? Has it gotten more complicated, less complicated?
MR: Well, it's a little different. We didn't see Miami last year, so it's tough to compare what they would have done against us last year. Carolina is tough also because they've had defensive coordinator changes there this past year. So it's tough to say after two weeks.
Q: What are your thoughts about coming back to play in the Boston area in front of Boston fans?
MR: It would be great to get back there. It's a part of the country that I love. [It has] a special spot in my heart up there from my days at BC, so I'll be excited to get back. I know there will be some people at the game that it will be good to see. But with that said, we're going up there to play this football game and to try and win this football game. There will be chances in the offseason to try and get back enjoy the Boston area. Right now, we're trying to go up there and take care of our Business.
Q: Are you going to try to squeeze in a side trip to the Heights? I know they're playing Wake Forest on Saturday.
MR: No. I won't be able to make it up to BC. I wish, but with us flying up and getting ready for the game, it's not going to happen.
Q: You could give Wake Forest Head Coach Jim Grobe a heck of a scare just by showing up...
MR: Well, we could use a little help after last week. It was a tough one for BC, but I'm sure Spaz [BC Head Coach Frank Spaziani] will have those guys rebounded this week
Q: How often have you been back since you joined the Falcons?
MR: I went back for a game during our bye week last year and then was up again during the winter - was up in Boston just for a weekend. So I've been up twice since I left.
Q: Although the defensive personnel has changed a lot recently, Bill Belichick still has his thumbprint on the defense. What's your thought process in terms of trying to beat a Bill Belichick defense?
MR: They're physical and they've looked good on tape so far this year. I think last week against the Jets they played well. Not many points were scored in that ballgame, and I thought on the defensive side they did a great job, so we know we're going to have our work cut out for us. They've got some really good physical guys in the front four, some guys who can make some plays in the secondary, so it's going to be tough, but I feel like we've got a great game plan. We've been working hard so far this week and we're just going to need to continue to prepare as best we can so that we're ready to play Sunday.
Q: With all the talk about your passing game - and obviously you have a very potent one - how important is it to have the two running backs you have to help you?
MR: Oh, it's huge. You know, our mentality is that we're a run-first football team. We're going to go out there and we're going to try and pound the ball and ride what our offensive line can do. Fortunately we've got a couple guys in the backfield that can make some plays: Michael Turner, Jerious Norwood, even Jason Snelling had a great game last weekend. So those guys really get us going. They move the chains on third and short situations, and that's a big advantage for us.