FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan doesn’t like to discuss his accomplishments for more than a couple of minutes.
That’s nothing unusual. Ryan never says too much when asked to consider his chance to become NFL MVP.
The same goes when approaching Ryan about whether Falcons can go undefeated in the regular season or if he’s still concerned about his winless record in three playoff games.
It’s difficult to get much emotion from Ryan other than the vibe he puts off that’s intelligent, cool and polite.
Ryan ranks third in NFL passer rating and completion percentage and in touchdowns, but said there are just two statistical categories that have real meaning.
“From a quarterback standpoint, it’s all about touchdowns and turnovers,” he said on Wednesday. “Those kinds of things are ultimately the most important. So far, we’ve done a pretty good job of that this year.”
Ryan has been called Matty Ice since he was teenager, earning the nickname by performing well under pressure at William Penn Charter School in the Philadelphia suburbs.
But the moniker likewise applies to his interviews with reporters. Nobody’s going to crack Matty Ice Block.
Teammates say that he can be a wise guy when the public isn’t watching, but that it’s all business when he gets on the field.
Todd McClure, the Falcons’ 14th-year center, said Ryan rarely berates a teammate for a missed assignment and never shows much emotion in the huddle.
“You never see him get rattled,” McClure said. “He never changes.” There’s been a few times where he’s gotten on some guys in some situations where we maybe got a penalty here and there, but for the most part he never changes. He’s the same guy all of the time.”
When Atlanta (7-0) hosts the Dallas Cowboys (3-4) on Sunday night, Ryan insists he won’t worry about the expectations of a capacity crowd at the Georgia Dome or a national television audience.
“Not really,” he said. “We’ve got guys in this locker room that have played for a long time, and we’ve played Sunday night games, we’ve played Monday night games, we’ve played Thursday night games. We’ve done about everything you can do, so the biggest thing is to get in your routine.”
Ryan’s leadership is a primary reason Atlanta’s diverse offense is playing at a high level.
With Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez so tough to defend in man-to-man coverage, they provide Ryan a multitude of ways to move the ball down the field.
The Falcons can strike quickly or move the ball methodically. Ryan has helped Atlanta take first-quarter leads at Kansas City and Philadelphia and mount last-minute comebacks against Carolina and Oakland.
In last week’s 13-point win over the Eagles, Ryan oversaw an offense that scored on its first six drives. His career record improved to 28-0 when his passer rating is 100 or higher and 29-5 record when he throws at least two touchdown passes.
“He ran the offense about as well as it could be run,” Atlanta coach Mike Smith said. “I thought there was probably one throw early in the game that he would’ve liked to have back. It was the first throw of the game.”
Ryan hardly gave himself an outstanding evaluation.
“Far from perfect,” he said with a laugh. “There is no doubt. Smitty was being kind. There was probably more than one that I wanted back. The first play of the game is a good example of that. I probably should’ve just put it in the dirt.”
Ryan cited poor footwork on some inaccurate throws. He wasn’t pleased on decisions he made on checkdowns and pre-snap protection calls he could’ve made.
“You’re never going to be completely perfect,” he said. “But you’re always trying to work towards that and I’ll continue trying to do that this week.”