Interview with Dave Razzano by Dewey Hammond.
Dave Razzano is a former NFL scout and Playmaker Mobile correspondent with more than 22 years of professional scouting experience with the San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals under NFL coaches including Bill Walsh, George Seifert, Chuck Knox and Dick Vermeil. He's been a part of five Super Bowls with three Super Bowl wins (49ers, 1989, 1990; Rams, 2000).
Q: What do you expect from Matt Ryan in his third season? He had a great rookie campaign but disappointed many in year two.
A: It sure will be interesting to watch. Ryan is a very good leader but I don't think he's a top tier-one QB. I think a guy like Stafford has more skill throwing the football. That first year, with Ryan, like they say, you don't want to be too good too soon. You need to manage expectations. When you come out and win 11 games, the expectations get so high. Then they fell off last year. I think he's good but not great. He's not anywhere close to the Manning and Brady and Brees or even Philip Rivers. He'll be solid, a good leader. They could win 9 games, or 8. The third year is always a real strong indication.
Q: You talk about Matt Ryan as a middle of the pack guy, and when you look at the numbers you see middle of the pack numbers: 14th overall in passing yards per game, 15th overall in rushing. On defense it's less than middle of the pack. Their pass defense last year, by the numbers, was terrible. Do you see an improvement?
A: They did get Dunta Robinson from the Houston Texans, and rookie Shawn Weatherspoon, the linebacker out of Missouri who I think is a little overrated. They should be a little bit better, and they did get a lot of their players back. They have Curtis Lofton, the leader of the defense, and if they get DT Peria Herry healthy that'll mean a better pash rush. John Abraham needs to be healthy too. They really need to be healthy because their depth isn't very good. Their other corner, Brian Williams, is very fringe. I don't see them in the top 10 in terms of talent. The jury is out.
Q: Let's give Falcons fans something to look forward to. Who is going to surprise them this year and outplay expectations?
A: It's key getting Michael Turner back. Get Michael Turner back and that offense can really go forward. They have a nice slot receiver who I like as one of my sleepers, Harry Douglas. He was one of the most productive receivers in college a few years back, at Louisville, he just needs to be healthy. He's been injured. A healthy Harry Douglas to go with Roddy White, Michael Turner, and continuing to have the ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez. They'll score points but the key is Michael Turner. You've got to have a healthy Turner to pound the ball. They're a borderline playoff team. They're right there.