In Peter King’s Football in America column, Arthur Smith revealed just how much confidence the new regime in Atlanta has in Matt Ryan, not just for this season but for the next few years. Taking Kyle Pitts fourth, by far the best player left on the board, signaled the team wasn’t rebuilding after passing on Justin Fields and Mac Jones. “They hired the wrong guys if they thought we were going to lower expectations, take our time, and rebuild,” Smith said. “That’s just not who we are. The expectation is to win now, build for the future, have plans.
There was a factoid that was interesting in King’s article that eluded to Terry Fontenot never taking a quarterback in the first place. According to the article, the Falcons had two ‘blue’ players: elite players in their scouting terminology — Trevor Lawrence and Kyle Pitts. Essentially, it seems the front office wasn’t going to deviate from taking Pitts unless a trade offer blew them away, even if Trey Lance fell. Smith sees Ryan as the quintessential piece to compete right now.
“With Matt, I see a really high-quality starting quarterback who’s thrown for 55,000 yards in this league and had unbelievable experience and is still throwing guys open. It doesn’t sound absurd anymore to say, ‘Hey, I want to play till I’m 40.’ If he didn’t want to play, that would be a different set of problems. We still may not have taken a quarterback at 4 because soon as you take one, if you take the wrong guy, there’s some bad unintended consequences because right away, it’s like, ‘There’s your quarterback of the future.’ And if you take the wrong guy just because you want to win the press conference tonight, it’s like . . .”
The plan is simple — compete now. Executing that plan isn’t so simple, though. Smith will have a loaded offense, but there are still several question marks. The offensive line could use bolstering, and the defense is littered with holes. So, the Falcons may compete this year thanks to Smith and Ryan, but until the defense catches up… this team will fall short. But make no question about it; inside the building, the Falcons do not believe they are rebuilding.