How rare is it to see a rookie quarterback performing as well as local hero Matt Ryan, who has the Falcons 4-2 coming into Sunday's date at the Linc? "It's pretty rare," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said Thursday. "You look at the preseason games, you go through the season -- every game, he's improved ... Not taking sacks, throwing the ball away, doing a good job with that, hitting big plays when he has to. He's really improved."
"He's playing like a veteran right now. You'd like to have had this guy the first game of the year. He was a lot different quarterback than he is now."
Johnson said even Peyton Manning, whom he faced when Johnson was with Seattle, wasn't as strong a performer as a rookie as Ryan -- but he added that the Falcons' dominant running game has been a big factor there, keeping Ryan in manageable situations.
"They do a great job with their running game. If they can get ahead of you, they're going to pound the ball," Johnson said.