The Falcons are 1-3 to start the 2021 season, fresh off a shootout loss to Washington and now sitting squarely at the bottom of the NFC South. But they've seen improvement at their most important position basically every week since kicking off the Arthur Smith regime, with veteran quarterback Matt Ryan posting his best numbers of the year to date against Washington. Ryan's four touchdowns on Sunday weren't enough to lift Atlanta, but the signal-caller still maintains that the Falcons have the firepower to turn things around. Not only that, but his mind hasn't changed at all regarding his future in the city.
In partnership with Tide for an eco-friendly #TurnToCold initiative, which advocates for using cold water in washing machines and saw Ryan film commercials with Stone Cold and Ice T, as well as voice a talking washing machine, the Pro Bowl quarterback spoke with CBS Sports one-on-one about everything from Cordarrelle Patterson and the team's 2021 chances to his future in Atlanta:
You've seemed to improve with each performance this year. Is that a product of getting more familiar with the new staff, the coaches making adjustments, or a combination of things?
Ryan: I think it's it's probably a little bit of everything. I I definitely feel like I'm starting to get a better feel for our coaching staff and how they call games and the routine of the week of getting yourself ready to go and ready to play -- what I need to do, you know, and being comfortable with some of the new players around us. I think all of us are feeling more comfortable, (which is) leading into a little bit more production on offense, which is good, which is what we're going to need moving forward, and certainly what we need this week against the New York Jets.
No one really foresaw Cordarrelle Patterson emerging as the centerpiece of your offense. What have you seen from him during his emergence?
Ryan: He's a stud. He really is. I mean, he's like a throwback kind of player from another generation where he does everything. He plays special teams for us, covers kicks, is a running back, runs the ball between the tackles, catches the ball out of the backfield, we'll line him up out outside and he can run routes. He's incredibly competitive and physical, and he's been awesome to play with. I've really enjoyed him being a part of our team and the energy that he's brought, I mean, you can feel it. He provides a spark for everybody, and it's been fun to be a part of that.
Having been to big games before, from playoffs to the Super Bowl, is it harder to be patient when progress unfolds at a slower rate, as it is with the Falcons right now?
Ryan: It's hard to be patient as a player. You know, you realize your opportunity -- you don't get a ton of them and so there has to be a great sense of urgency to get things corrected and get things moving in the right direction. I really feel like we've got a good chance this week to get back to 2-3 and get into a bye week, get some rest, and you get back around .500 and you keep yourself in the mix. If you get hot at the right time, anything's possible. I think back to the year we went to Super Bowl in 2016, at one point we were 7-5 ... and I think you see that story over and over, and that's my message to our guys in the locker room is that there needs to be urgency now, of finding a way to clip off some wins, get back in the mix and then get hot when you need to.
When you look around the NFL and see other veteran QBs kind of getting their wish to relocate when their teams are rebuilding, some fans probably wonder whether that's crossed your mind. Have you weighed those thoughts?
Ryan: No, I'm all in. I said that from the start, you know, everybody's situation is different, right? And every situation is unique. I felt at the time (of the Falcons' regime change) like we could get this thing turned around quickly, (and) I feel like that's the case right now. We've been competitive, (and) the ball hasn't bounced our way and we need to make a few more plays, but I certainly think we have the firepower to to do it now, and there's no place I'd rather be than right here in Atlanta. I've been fortunate to be here my entire career here, and I hope that's the case. I hope I stay here for my entire career.
So it sure sounds like you're all in for the program-building under Arthur Smith. Obviously everything is subject to change in the NFL, but that's where you're at, committed for the long haul?
Ryan: I mean, you never know what's going to happen. I've been around long enough and I'm not naive to know that changes happen. But it's certainly not where my mind is at right now, and I'm really happy here. I feel like we've got a great coaching staff, I feel like we've got a good locker room, and I'm just focused on getting better right now, and I really think we can.
If you could give one message to Falcons fans, who might be looking for reasons to tune in amid the slow start, what would it be?
Ryan: I think we're close. And we're going to continue to work to get over that hump. But I do feel we've got the right people and the right makeup to get it done. And we're going to need their support as we keep moving forward, so I'd encourage them to stay the course.
How did your partnership with Tide come about, and what inspired you to go through with it?
Ryan: I kinda had a nickname (Matty Ice) that went with the theme, and that kind of sparked interest on both sides. When I got the memo on what they were trying to do, partnering with the NFL to try to (encourage people to) switch to cold-water washing, which is good for the environment but also good for your wallet, I figured it'd be a great thing to do.
What else can we expect from you in partnership with Tide?
Ryan: The commercials that are coming out, you know, it's pretty cool, going to London and (shooting) a commercial with Gordon Ramsay that's going to be coming out. It was cool to to work with him -- he's an absolute legend -- and so there's some cool stuff that's coming up in the next couple of weeks and I'm just excited to be a small part of it.