Bills

Ryan expects stiff challenge from Bills 

Matt Ryan, the reigning most valuable player in the NFL, has the Falcons off to a 3-0 start.

The Falcons are set to face the Buffalo Bills (2-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

Ryan will try to shake a three-interception performance against Detroit against a Buffalo defense that’s off to a good start under new coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. 

The Bills, who’ve posted victories of the Jets and the Broncos, have not allowed a passing touchdown this season. 

“I think their defense has done a good job,” Ryan said. “The secondary has been stout. The defense in general hasn’t given up many points. They have played really well in the first three weeks.”

Ryan has faced McDermott in 12 other games, when he was the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers from 2011 to 2016. He some similarities in the Bills’ defense. 

“They are aggressive,” Ryan said. “Very aggressive front four. The linebackers are very good against the run. That’s something that we’ve seen from Carolina. They have some of the best in the league. I think that carryover in the same.”

The Bills rebuilt their secondary by signing strong safety Micah Hyde (Packers) and free safety Jordan Poyer (Browns) in free agency. They acquired cornerback E.J. Gaines in the Sammy Lee Watkins trade with the Rams and drafted Tre’Davious White out of LSU with the 27th overall pick in the draft. 

“In the secondary, there’s a lot of quarters type of coverage which they do a great job with,” Ryan said. “They have a ton of different pressures. They give you a lot of different looks. They put a lot of stress on your pass protections.”

Ryan has been sacked seven times, including twice by Detroit. The Bills have 10 sacks on the season. Jacksonville leads the league with 13. 

“Their edge pass rush has been pretty good through the first three games,” Ryan said. “They’ve gotten a lot of pressures. Which is one of the reasons I think their pass defense has been so good. When you affect the quarterback and get people off their spot and make them move, it’s difficult. That’s going to be a great challenge for us up front.”

The Bills could get defensive tackle Marcel Dareus back. He missed the 26-16 win over Denver with an ankle injury.

“He’s a great player,” Ryan said. “Anytime you have great players that you’re going against it makes it more difficult. But we’ll see where everybody is at, at the end of the week.”

The Falcons were not make too big of a deal about Ryan’s three interceptions against Detroit. Two of them bounced off the hands of Tevin Coleman and Mohamed Sanu. 

The Falcons opened the game against Detroit throwing deep. The helped to slow down the Lions rush and kept them from over-loading the run box. 

But Ryan doesn’t want to just throw deep balls for his health.

“We want to connect,” Ryan said. “That’s the biggest thing. We didn’t really hit any in the last game. But we’ve been pretty efficient throwing the ball down the field… It backs things off if we are willing and able to go take shots down the field when they give us looks to do it. We are going to continue to do that. We feel like we are going to hit them when we get those opportunities.”

Kicker Matt Bryant leads the league with eight field goals, in part because the offense has been stalling in the red zone. 

Ryan would like to see the red zone offense improve. 

“I think it’s always a critical area,” Ryan said. “When you get your opportunities down there as an offense you have to come away with touchdowns. That’s something we’ve done a pretty good job of the first three weeks of the season, but for sure, that will be important on Sunday. If and when we get our opportunities down there, we have to take advantage of it.”

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