Matt Waldman’s RSP NFL Lens examines a critical red zone interception that altered the Eagles-Falcons game and reveals a good in-game adjustment to Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s arm in the 2018 NFL opener.
No one would ever mistake Matt Ryan’s arm talent with Patrick Mahomes or Matthew Stafford. However, Ryan has made a living off precision timing throws to the intermediate sideline: deep outs, deep curls, and deep comebacks.
However, watch Ryan perform with Roddy White in their prime and you see that Ryan’s work is a product of precision rather than elite velocity. Ryan’s accuracy was off much of the night in the 2018 opener against the Eagles but the velocity of his throws hasn’t declined.
The Eagles know Ryan’s limitations, which is why they didn’t give cornerback Rasul Douglas help over the top on a fourth-quarter throw in the red zone despite the fact that Cris Collinsworth expressed concern before the snap. The Eagles saw Ryan complete two opposite field throws in the first and second quarter and knew that the Falcons’ quarterback couldn’t deliver these passes on a line.
The first-quarter target was a short out with no threat of a deeper route from Jones as he ran his stem. The second-quarter target was an excellent out set up with a fake to the post that Jones used last year to burn the Eagles’ defense.
The sale of the deep post gave Ryan a ton of time to deliver the ball. So much so, Jones had to wait at the sideline for the ball to arrive.
The fourth-quarter pass was a different scenario. You can see Ryan in peak form in 2012 with White (one of dozens of throws like it throughout Ryan’s career) and then his rainbows in the 2018 opener that set up the game-altering interception.
When it was time for Ryan to make the throw late, Rasul Douglas baited the quarterback into pulling the trigger and undercut the route. Sometimes it comes down to knowing the limitations of your opponent.
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