Posted: 6:57 pm Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Falcons rookie Jeff Mathews factors in ‘wide open’ No. 2 QB competition 

By Michael Cunningham

Jeff Matthews is in the mix to become Matt Ryan's backup. (Kent D. Johnson/AJC)

Jeff Matthews is in the mix to become Matt Ryan’s backup. (Kent D. Johnson/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH– Falcons coach Mike Smith was extolling the virtues of Sean Renfree, the second-year quarterback from Duke, when he offered some unsolicited praise for a rookie quarterback.

“The (Jeff) Mathews kid, the young undrafted rookie, he has done some things,” Smith said. “He’s got a nice arm. He’s intelligent player. I think it’s wide open as far as far as who our No. 2 quarterback is going to be.”

Those comments were a bit surprising even in light of Smith’s oft-repeated declaration this off season that there would be real competition for several jobs.

For one, Dominique Davis has been entrenched as Matt Ryan’s primary backup for the past two seasons. Also, the Falcons are high on Renfree as a developmental prospect and liked what they saw before he was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury suffered during the final preseason game in 2013.

“Sean is a very cerebral quarterback,” Smith said. “He played at Duke for David Cutcliffe. David Cutcliffe has (coached) a long line of quarterbacks that have played in the NFL.”

Mathews, meanwhile, started for three-plus years at Cornell (he started five of 10 games as a freshman). He set an Ivy League record for career passing yards (11,284) and was named the league’s player of the year as a sophomore.

Now he apparently has a real chance to make the roster as Ryan’s backup.

“That’s exciting,” Mathews said. “That’s what you want to hear. I think coach does an unbelievable job of breeding competition. That’s what you want as a player is make sure you can compete for a job. That’s what I’m here for. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

It’s a big leap to the NFL from the Ivy League, which competes at the FCS level and doesn’t award scholarships. Mathews acknowledged that’s the case, citing the difference in the speed of the players and the tempo of the game, but said he’s adjusted to the change during OTAs and the minicamp.

Mathews said his extensive playing experience in college gives him an edge.

“I think anytime you get game experience it’s very valuable at any level,” he said. “Obviously now I have to transition that to the pro game, which is very different. There’s a learning curve and I’m trying to get through that as quick as possible.”

9 comments
Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

No Joe Tess...nobody wants to hear you again on anything!  You are a lying scum who makes jokes about dead children.  So no, your comments about Mansell or anybody else is unwelcome.  AJC should have banned you last Aug.

BUZZ88
BUZZ88

He started 9 games his freshman year, not 5.  He came in at the beginning of the 2nd half of his first game as a freshman.  He set 42 school records and 18 Ivy League records and is ranked in the top 20 all time FCS QB's.  Check out Yates stats and tell me you still believe he's the guy you want on your team.  In 2012 he was 4-10 with 1 INT for 38 yards and last year he was 15 for 22 with 2 INT for 113 yards.  In a year when Houston was in desperate need of a QB, they wouldn't play him, and now they traded him (the papers in Houston say they cut him) for a position they don't need help at, LB.  

AF is not going to carry 3 QBs on their roster.  They'll carry two and keep one on a practice squad.  Renfree and Mathews are the only two eligible for the practice squad and its unlikely that Mathews will survive waivers, someone will pick him up.  I understand Smith is trying to create competition in camp, but now he has 4 QBs all trying for 1 spot on the roster.  There is no way either of them can get enough reps in to make a good determination.  Stupid move unless he trades one before the start of camp in July.

ftputt
ftputt

With Yates coming in, this now means Renfree will be 3rd string, Matthews will go to the practice squad and D. Davis will go somewhere else.

tjhook
tjhook

I hope domonique shows folks how good he is this preseason. Good athlete and passer. Can extend plays on offense

Whiznot
Whiznot

Anyone should be able to beat out Dominique Davis. Every time he gets in a game he sucks.

Cedrickc
Cedrickc

Uh oh Dominique, your about to get the push out the door like shockley got a few years ago. LOL

JSSN
JSSN

@Quackmeyer

Does that go for people opining jokes on mythical social reasons for gun violence too?

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

@Barves_Loss_Agian  Yeah that makes sense especially when Matt Ryan got killed last season. You're a smart person who can't spell.