You probably read it last winter, when Matt Ryan was leading the Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance — the Atlanta quarterback was born in Exton and went to William Penn Charter High School before playing for Boston College.
And you probably heard the generic quotes, with the former third overall pick telling ESPN: “It’s always good to go back and play there, for sure. Obviously the family and friends, it’s great to see them. But it doesn’t matter where we go this time of the year. We’re just excited to be going and just still have the opportunity to keep playing.”
But Ryan hasn’t fared particularly well at Lincoln Financial Field, the venue set to host his Falcons as they play the Eagles Saturday afternoon. Since entering the league in 2008, Ryan is 1-3 against the Eagles. The most recent setback came last year as the Falcons laid an egg in their worst loss of the season, a 24-15 setback. In the game, he had a 78.8 quarterback rating, his worst of an otherwise spectacular 2016 campaign.
Prior to his lone bright spot, torching the Eagles in Andy Reid’s final season in 2012, he lost games in 2010 and 2008 throwing three interceptions. It’s a small sample size, but something for Eagles fans to hang their hats on as they look to bring the noise in the first home playoff game in the city in four years.
“Our home games and road games, we’re significantly better at home,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “That’s why it was important for us to get home-field advantage. You take the travel out of the equation, it’s tough on opponents when the fans are loud. I know our fans will be loud. It’s tough on the opponents in a hostile environment, and that’s what Philly is. That’s what the Linc [Lincoln Financial Field] is. It’s been a great home-field advantage for us over the course of the season, and it’s not just the players on the field. The fans in the stands are going to mean an awful lot to coming out with a victory on Saturday.”
The 12th man can play a big role in causing confusion for Ryan in a place he doesn’t seem to enjoy playing. But one can forget that while Ryan is typically thought of as a pocket passer, he does have the ability to make plays with his legs as well.
“He’s good at feeling spots in the pocket and being able to step up and slide one way or slide another,” Schwartz said. “He scrambled for a couple big first downs late this season.”