The Hot Read: Matt Ryan, Elite Quaterback?

Over the last few weeks, a lot has been said about Matt Ryan and his status as an elite Quaterback in NFL.  Going back over his stats for his career, Matty Ice has consistently gotten better.  In his rookie season of 2008, Ryan led the Falcons to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth.  Something the Falcons had not done for several years.  His stats for the year were 3440 yards passing, 16 passing touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a QB rating of 87.7.  But what impressed me most about his rookie season was not the yards, or playoff berth or his Rookie of the Year award but rather his poise under pressure.  The biggest moment that comes to my mind happened during the Bears game at home.  In this game, the Bears scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter giving the Falcons only enough time to run one play in order to get into field goal range.  On this play, Ryan was in shotgun and as soon as the ball was snapped, the Bears sent a blitz.  Ryan dropped back stared the blitzer down and made a perfect throw to receiver Micheal Jenkins for a big gain and allowed the Falcons to get within field goal range for their kicker.  With only a few seconds left the Falcons were able to convert the kick and win the game.  This one play helped Ryan earn the nickname Matty Ice.

Matty Ice followed up his rookie season with another good campaign in the 09 season.  During his second year under center for the Falcons, Ryan led the team to another winning season.  Until that year, the Falcons had never had back to back winning seasons.  And he might have led us to another playoff berth if he had not missed two games because of injury.  His stats for this season were even better in my mind than his first season.  He had 22 touchdowns to 14 interceptions and threw for just shy of 3000 yards.  His stats could have been better if he had not missed 2 full games and a large portion of a third game due to his injury. The Falcons finished that year with a 9-7 record and missed out on the playoffs by only one game.

In 2010, Matt Ryan showed people that he should be considered has an MVP candidate.  He led the Falcons to their second best regular season record of 13-3 and a number 1 seed in the playoffs.  The offense that year was more on his shoulders than it had been the previous two years.  He threw the ball 120 more times than the year before and completed 94 more passes than the previous season.  He also had career highs in passing yards with 3705 and touchdowns with 28.  He also threw a career low 9 interceptions and had a career best 91 QB rating.

And then this season.  At the beginning of this season, many experts picked the Falcons as one of the possible Super Bowl Contenders from the NFC.   And again Matt Ryan was gonna have to be the one to shoulder most of the workload.  After a poor start to the season that had the Falcons alternating wins and losses and achieving a dismal 2-3 record, Matty Ice took the team on his shoulders and proceeded to go 8-3 and earn a playoff berth for the second straight year.  Something else that the Falcons had never done before.  This season saw Matt Ryan break even more personal records as well as Franchise records.  He threw a career 29 touchdowns, passed for 4177 yards(Falcons Franchise Record) 12 interceptions and a 92.2 passer rating.  His stats could have been slightly better had he not been pulled in the final game of the season after the first quarter.

With each season, Matty Ice has gotten better as the Falcons have counted on him more and more.  Also, he is among the league leaders in game winning drives since he came into the league in 2008 as well as having one of the best records during that time.  To me, that gives him elite status.  I know he is currently 0-2 in the playoffs and the playoff record is what most people look at when talking about elite status.  However, I think there is more to an Elite QB than playoff records.  I would like to bring up a few examples that I think helps prove my point.

Dan Marino, who is one of my all time favorite players, never won a Super Bowl. And also had a losing record in the Playoffs.  John Elway, another great quaterback did not win his first superbowl until his second to last season. Peyton Manning did not win a Super Bowl until a few seasons ago and he currently has a losing record in the playoffs. All these quarterbacks are considered elite but none of them experience much success in the playoffs until later in their careers. Except for Dan Marino who greatest success came early on.

Now lets look at a few quarterbacks that have won Championships that you might not call elite.  The first one that comes to my mind is Trent Dilfer. Trent won the Super Bowl back in 2000 when he was with the Baltimore Ravens.  In that season, he had thrown for 1502 yards with 12 touchdowns as well as 11 interceptions.  He has never thrown for over 3000 yards and never more than 21 touchdowns.  But he has a ring.

Another that comes to mind is Brad Johnson. In his career which spanned 17 years, Brad has only thrown for 3000 yards five times and 4000 once.  The most touchdowns he has thrown is 26.  his highest rating was 92.9 and his career rating his 82.5. Not what you might call elite but he still has a ring.

The last guy I wanna look at is Jeff Hostetler.  Jeff Hostetler was a career backup and never threw more than 5 touchdowns in a single season and never more than 273 yards in a season.  However, during the 1990 NFL season, Jeff Hostetler helped the New York Giants win the Super Bowl after starting Quaterback Phil Simms was lost to a season ending foot injury.

Would anyone call the last three Quarterbacks elite? No. But all of them have one thing in common. They all have more Super Bowl victories than Dan Marino. Whom some consider as the Best QB in history.

Basically what I am trying to say is that just because you do or do not have a Super Bowl Ring does not mean that you are or are not an Elite QB.  And just because Matt Ryan is 0-2 so far in the playoffs does not mean he will never win one.  It is only his fourth season in the NFL and he has already done some amazing things. So lay off of him and let the man work.

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