Now that Super Bowl 50 has come and gone, there is a long offseason in store for football players and fans. We spoke with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to find out what it's like training during such a long offseason. He was also more than willing to offer some of his thoughts on Carolina Panthers QB and divisional rival Cam Newton, who suffered a tough loss to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. His answers may surpise you.
Obviously, Carolina is a big division rival and you’ve gone up against Cam a bunch of times. What do you see in him?
Hes one of the most talented guys you’ll ever see; he’s a great competitor. You hate going against him because you know he’s going to go out there and he’s going to compete and he's going to make plays.
There’s been a media storm around Cam for some time for his behavior on the field. Was that something that ever bothered your guys?
I think the only thing about it that bothered us was that we couldn’t stop him. I think he made so many great plays. That’s what gets you as a player, you wish you could defend him. But to me, no, it doesn’t bother me. That’s a guy enjoying himself, he’s playing. And I think that’s the way it should be. You should have fun when you're out there playing.
How does a QB stay football-ready during such a long offseason? What do you do to stay prepared and healthy?
I think playing QB in terms of your offseason training is a lot about maintaining flexibility in terms of rotation—so it’s a lot of medicine ball throws and being sure that your hips and core stay strong. And then when you’re not actually throwing, I think its important to really work on the small muscles in your shoulder. Both the muscles that accelerate, and probably more importantly the muscles in the back of your shoulder that kind of decelerate as you throw. I think staying on top of those, and really being diligent about your shoulder and your rotation during the offseason, is really critical.
Looking ahead to next season, what do you think you guys will be working on? Are there any weak spots, anything that needs improvement?
Well I think the number one goal is to be more consistent than we were this year. We were 8-8, so we did some things well, and we did some things poorly. We need to really accentuate some of the things we did well, and try to improve on some of the things we didn’t do well. But for us, I think the focus has to be on finishing games. I think if we can finish better than we did this year, we had opportunities to win more games than we did. We didn’t finish enough games the way we needed to. I think that’s the point of emphasis for us this year.
Aside from training, how do you prefer to eat? Is it mostly clean, or do you have some wiggle room? What are your preferences?
Yeah I know, love to try and keep it as clean as I can. In terms of diet, you gotta find what works for you. You know, a little bit of it is trial and error, it's about trying to make sure that I'm eating within every three hours to keep my blood sugar level right where it needs to be. And in terms of what you're actually eating, I've been told to try and put a lot of color on your plate. So that’s a lot of vegetables, and then lean meats, and fish. And not to say that there aren't cheats every so often—I think you gotta take care of yourself and enjoy some of the things in life—but as a professional athlete, you have to put good fuel into your body.
We want your advice—what do you do to look sharp at the post-game press conference?
I think you gotta know yourself, and know your own style. For me, it's about being not conservative but a little more classic, and keeping with some greys, blacks, blues—those kinds of colors work well for what I do. So finding my fit and cut and those kinds of things in classic colors.
You’ve been working with Gillette for a while and their new campaign for the ProShield is meant to celebrate the O-line guys—the protectors of the gridiron. What are your thoughts on what it means to have those guys in front of you, protecting the guy with the ball?
Yeah, I think it's one of the coolest things about the entire Fusion Proshield campaign—that they celebrate the unsung heroes up front, the guys who protect me, and shield me from all the bad stuff. And in a locker room, those are the guys that don’t get a ton of attention. But they’re really—to me—the most important part of the game. We talk all the time during our team meetings about how the game is won and lost at the line of scrimmage. But yet, what you hear in the media about all the time is all these guys on the outside or quarterbacks making plays. You know, I think it's awesome that they get to get out there and showcase some of their shield moves as part of the campaign. I think that’s a really unique and cool way to promote what Gillette is all about and what the Fusion ProShield is all about.