Now, in the day-to-day grind of the season, Ryan is reticent to talk about his playoff failures. He prefers to stay in the moment — looking forward, not backward. But it's clear he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder.
"He's the real deal," said Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall. "Matt is coming into his own. He looks like the guy (everyone) thought he would be all along. He's playing at an MVP caliber right now."
Ryan is the NFL's top-rated passer, completing more than 69 percent of his throws, with 11 touchdowns and just two interceptions. If there was any doubt about his toughness, that was cast aside with the beating he took in Week 4, which not only include all those sacks, but another dozen hits — several of the brutal variety — after he got rid of the ball.
While eyebrows were raised when the Falcons hired Dirk Koetter as their new offensive coordinator, it's clear that Ryan has developed a quick bond with the guy calling the plays. An offense that was based around Turner and a power running game has become more a quick-passing, no-huddle scheme.
The Falcons have hit only 11 passing plays longer than 20 yards, tied for 20th in the league rankings. But, actually, they appear to be a more wide-open team, letting Ryan take advantage of his myriad weapons: White, Julio Jones, tight end Tony Gonzalez.
"They're just letting Matt do things he's comfortable with," Turner said. "As long as we keep doing that, we'll be fine."
Just don't bring up those letters.
"The biggest thing for me is to try to play well every week and do whatever we need to do to get a win," Ryan said. "Other than that, I try not to pay attention to it."
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