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After soaring to an MVP with last season’s output, Matt Ryan has crashed back to Earth. Ryan’s passer rating has fallen by 27.8 points from last season (117.1 in 2016, 89.3 in 2017), the biggest drop-off of any qualified quarterback this season. The QB is tired of comparing last year’s offense to the 2017 version.
We have to find a way for this team to play the way that we’re capable of as a team, Ryan said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We can’t worry about last year. I know that constantly gets brought up, but as players we are not thinking about last year.
The real noticeable difference comes from the scaling back of pre-snap movement Shanahan utilized, which helped get pass-catchers open. It’s evident to anyone watching the game that Falcons receivers aren’t seeing nearly the same free releases and wide-open spaces as they saw in last year’s scheme. Ryan was throwing to players galloping in green space a year ago. Now he’s trying to fit balls in tight windows and coming up short.
The run defense got gashed in Green Bay, and the offense had to overcome a couple more Drew Brees mistakes, but New Orleans still put together a strong performance in which it could run, pass, get to the QB and force turnovers. A win in Lambeau was well-timed with the rest of the division losing.
No. 5 seed — Seahawks (4-2): Second place, NFC West. Even with more mistakes against the Giants, the scoreboard indicated the Seahawks dominated, and it could have been a lot more lopsided. Russell Wilson is right there with Drew Brees as healthy, Super Bowl-winning QBs looming large in the NFC.
The central figure when the Cardinals move forward obviously is Johnson, who might still play this season when his wrist heals. How much more Fitzgerald wants to play, or to play there, at age 34, remains to be seen. Even Arians finding the perfect Palmer replacement to plug in next season doesn’t make this team an instant contender again.