Opponent Opinions: QB Matt Ryan

The Dolphins scouted quarterback Matt Ryan when they held the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, but decided to go instead with tackle Jake Long. Now, the Dolphins will see Ryan, the 2008 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, up close on Sunday when they open the season at Atlanta. Ryan touches on a variety of subject Wednesday when he talked with South Florida reporters.

Here is the transcript of Ryan's conference call:

On how he is feeling: "I feel good."

On reports he was sick earlier in the week: "Yeah, Monday. Monday I came in and wasn't feeling well. Coach [Mike] Smith sent me home, and I was back in yesterday feeling good, and ready to get to work for preparation this week."

On his feelings about his first game this year as opposed to the first game of his rookie season last year: "I think I've got a better understanding of how to prepare during the week than I did last year. And I feel a lot more comfortable doing the things during the course of the week to get me ready to go. Obviously, we're playing against a tough team in Miami. Really good defense, had a really good season last year. So I think it's going to be a tough start for us playing against a tough team, but we're excited about that."

On how he prepared and learned last season being "thrown into the fire" as a rookie: "I had talked to some different people beforehand, and guys that have played before, and each [person] gives you some advice. But at the end of the day, everybody says the same thing. It's tough, but you got to figure out what works for you. I think that's why I was so fortunate -to have played all of last year. You know, I think that experience was – what it takes week-in and week-out will really benefit me going into this season."

On if there is a rookie moment from last year that he does not think will be repeated: "Well, I hope there's a bunch of them. There were a bunch of mistakes that I made last year. A lot in the run too; sets and-runs in the right direction, understanding different looks that, we have to go against during the year; different secondary looks. So, I think just getting our guys on the same page in terms of run checks, and setting pass protection, and ID'ing coverage. I think that all those things, I've improved at. I don't know if there's one specific thing that, I won't make the same mistake I did last year, but I think I'll be better served executing those things that I mentioned."

On the difference that TE Tony Gonzalez makes: "He's a big addition for us. I think that he certainly has done a great job during this preseason, during training camp, of coming in here, getting a feel for the system and learning the system. He's an extremely smart guy, extremely bright guy; picks things up really quickly. I think he's a huge asset for us on third downs, and even for some second downs. He's big for us in the red zone as well."

On if he was surprised on how naturally he fit in to the NFL last season: "Well, yeah, I think it's always different when it's yourself going through it, because I felt like there were some ups and downs, some things that I really struggled with, and some things that I did well. So I felt like the transition was, you know, fairly smooth. But with that said, it was a difficult process, and I learned a lot of things along the way."

On if he feels for Dolphins T Jake Long having to constantly match his own success, as they were both top 3 draft choices last season: "I know Jake pretty well. He and I are pretty good friends. We got to know each other; we trained out in Arizona prior to the draft for a couple of months, so I got to know him pretty well. He's a good guy, really good guy, very talented player. I think he did a great job last season from afar taking a look at what he did, and how well he played. I think he did a great job, you know, he's a great fit for the Dolphins. I've been in preparations with him, he's got a great personality, great work ethic, and I'm sure will continue to do great things down there."

On if prior to last year's draft, he thought the Dolphins would select him at No. 1: "I guess you never know. I had no idea what was going to happen. I guess maybe for a second, maybe you think that, but, really I had no idea."

On what impressed him about the Dolphins during the draft process: "I thought that from the front office down, I thought that everybody was very professional, had a plan in mind to get things going in the direction that they wanted. Coach [Tony] Sparano and [General Manager] Jeff Ireland, I met with them a couple of times, and I just felt like they were football guys; dedicated to trying to get things headed in the right direction down there, and I think that they did a really good job of that last season."

On who mentored him last year from a quarterback standpoint: "A lot of it was guys within the organization. I think Bill Musgrave, our quarterbacks coach; he played six or seven seasons in the league, and had an understanding of what it took to prepare week-in and week-out. Played with some great quarterbacks as well, John Elway, Steve Young, and some different guys like that. So, he helped me out a bunch in terms of setting up a schedule and I really came into a great situation in terms of the coaching staff here helping me out through that process."

On how much RBs Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood helped him last season: "That helps a whole lot when you can turn around and hand the ball off to those guys and know that they're going to make plays for you. It's a big advantage for our football team to have those guys."

On what concerns him most about the Dolphins defense: "I think they do a good job up front. They get good push with really their front seven. You look at Joey Porter and Jason Taylor on the ends of the 3-4 scheme do a really good job, not only in the run game, but also in terms of pass rush. I think in the secondary, they've got some good talent, guys on the corners that can make some plays – a young rookie who's looked really good during the preseason. So, I think we've got our work cut out for us; it's going be, you know, a tough, tough challenge for us. But like I said before, I think we're excited about that."

On how this offseason has compared to last with no Michael Vick/Bobby Petrino distraction: "There certainly was a bit of that when I first got here, there's no denying that. You know, I think coach [Mike] Smith did a good job of really, since I've been here, of keeping the emphasis on the future and focusing in on getting better day-in and day-out, so we can prepare for the offseason and we can prepare for this season. Obviously less questions about this year, but for the most part, I think Mike Smith did a great job of getting everybody on the team on the same page and focusing on what we could control."

On his comments in Sports Illustrated that the Wildcat offense is a fad and why he believes that is so: "Well, you know, the way in which I said it was that: ‘Do you think the Wildcat will take over and become permanent offenses?' And, you know, I just don't think it will. I think that, you know, regular offenses will still be out there. Not to say that Miami hasn't done a great job with it, they did an exceptional job last year, and it's going to be tough for our defense to deal with that this week. But those were just some of the comments that I made, and you know, I certainly think that Miami did a great job with it last year; had a ton of success and I really think won some games as a result of using that formation and those plays."

On if his defense jokingly thanked him for those comments: "I don't think that there's a lot made of it, but the comments are certainly not directed at Miami. Nobody really said much about it."

On what he thinks the Dolphins interest in him was as a draft prospect last year, especially from GM Jeff Ireland: "I think it's tough to say, especially when you're at a players perspective of that group. Organizations play it so close to the vest that you really don't get a feel from anybody. So, I'm not sure."

On if there are any particular ex-quarterbacks he has met this past year that stood out: "Well, I was lucky enough to meet some really good quarterbacks this offseason – Dam Marino, Joe Montana, and, you know, John Elway, just to name a few. You know, pretty cool to meet them and just talk to them about a number of different things. So, I feel fortunate that I've had that opportunity."

On if there was any specific advice from them that stood out: "You know, different things here and there that, you know, nothing in specific."

On which one of the three quarterbacks he followed or modeled his game after growing up: "You know, I followed all of them. You know, Dan [Marino] and John Elway were a little bit younger than Joe [Montana], so I was pretty young when Joe was in his prime. But still, you know, I'm kind of a junkie for the NFL Films stuff and some of those highlights from old teams, I love watching that, so I've seen a lot of his games. But really followed Joe, excuse me, John, and Dan a lot."

On the personality of his college coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who was recently fired in Tampa Bay: "I can speak from my time with Jags, he did a great job up at BC [Boston College]. You know, I think he came into a situation where we had a veteran team and he led us to 11 wins, you know, my senior year. So I had a great relationship with him, and you know, felt like he did a great job while he was at Boston College."


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