Kerry Rhodes: Matt Ryan is ‘playing at an MVP level’ this season

Nov 16, 2012, 1:46 AM | Updated: 5:40 am

Despite facing former MVPs Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers during the first nine games of the 2012-2013 season, one thing is clear coming out of the bye week for the Arizona Cardinals defense: it doesn’t get any easier.

Sunday, they are set to face Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Although the four-year pro might not be considered among the elite passers in the league today with the likes of Brady, Rodgers and the Manning brothers, his numbers so far this season have been staggering.

Through nine games, Ryan has thrown for 2,771 yards (second-best in the NFL) and 20 touchdowns (fourth-best in the NFL). He is also completing 68.4 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 102.6 (fourth-best in the NFL).

After watching film of the former Boston College star over the past few days, the Cardinals are certainly not taking Ryan lightly.

“Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level right now,” safety Kerry Rhodes said. “We know that Atlanta likes to jump out early on teams at home, and they are an explosive team. For us, we have to be on our A-game from the beginning.”

Ryan — who is coming off a season-high 411 passing yards in a loss to the New Orleans Saints — has only turned the ball over eight times this season, but in order for Arizona’s defense to get comfortable inside the Georgia Dome, Rhodes believes they need to make him uncomfortable by forcing a big play sooner rather than later in the contest.

“If we can play well from the beginning, and the defense can force a three-and-out or a turnover, our offense can go down and score points early,” said Rhodes. “From that point on, we’ll roll pretty much.”

While Rhodes’ best laid plans seem simple enough, in their four wins this season, however, the Cardinals have only forced two first quarter turnovers.

On the flip side, in two career starts against Arizona, Ryan has thrown for 424 yards to go along with five touchdowns and two interceptions.

Presented By
Western Governors University

Arizona Cardinals

James Conner of the Arizona Cardinals against the Pittsburgh Steelers...

Arizona Sports

Cardinals RB James Conner wins FedEx Ground award, ‘Angry Runs’ scepter

James Conner got his hat-tip in a few different forms for his play that helped his Arizona Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

13 hours ago

Cardinals celebrate in Pittsburgh...

Tyler Drake

Victory over Steelers a blueprint for Arizona Cardinals to follow

The Steelers have been a model of consistency for quite some time. On Sunday, though, it was the Cardinals looking like the complete team.

1 day ago

Naquan Jones...

Arizona Sports

Cardinals sign DL Naquan Jones to 53-man roster from practice squad

The Arizona Cardinals promoted defensive lineman Naquan Jones to the 53-man roster from the practice squad, the team announced on Tuesday. 

1 day ago

Arizona Cardinals DT Jonathan Ledbetter...

Tyler Drake

Jonathan Ledbetter named Cardinals’ 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year

The Arizona Cardinals named defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter as their Walter Payton Man of the Year for 2023 on Tuesday.

2 days ago

Presented By...

Arizona Sports Video

Video: Jonathan Gannon talks Arizona Cardinals win over Steelers, team dancing through weather delays

Arizona Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon joined Burns & Gambo to talk about the team’s Week 13 win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh and shared how the team stayed ready throughout the various weather delays. Video: Felisa Cárdenas and Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports Presented By

2 days ago

Monti Ossenfort helps out during practice...

Tyler Drake

2024 NFL Draft order: Cardinals enter bye week in possession of No. 3 pick

The Cardinals enter the bye with the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. A look at Arizona's road ahead and the draft implications it brings.

3 days ago

Kerry Rhodes: Matt Ryan is ‘playing at an MVP level’ this season