December 15, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass in the second quarter of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

State of The Franchise - The Quarterbacks

This is the 2nd post in the State of The Franchise that will run over the next few weeks. I reviewed the Falcons corners a week or so ago, in light of the news that Brent Grimes could be deemed expendable by the organisation. Today is the turn of the QB position.

Obviously this conversion begins by discussing current starter Matt Ryan. Despite having a lot of regular season success, Matt’s postseason troubles has at least made this question justifiable : Can Matt Ryan win the Falcons a Superbowl?

Follow the jump for my analysis….

Absolutely Yes! he is still pretty young for the QB position at 26 years old and has already proved (admittedly during the regular season) that he is a winner and is the future of the Falcons franchise. Over the 4 seasons he has been in Atlanta, he has led the Falcons to 4 winning seasons and 3 playoff berths in 4 years, which has been unheard of in the history of the Atlanta Falcons.

As his career has progressed, more responsibility has been placed on his shoulders such as running the no huddle (which Matt has been absolutely terrific at by the way) and becoming the focal point of the offense as Michael Turner has started to slow a bit.

In 2011, he posted career numbers in passing yards (4,177) and touchdowns (29) despite getting poor protection from his offensive line in the first half of the year. He achieved these impressive stats whilst in my opinion, being held back by the play calling of now former OC Mike Mularkey. It was not mere coincidence that the Falcons scored on most of their no huddle drives when Ryan was calling and changing the plays at the line of scrimmage, and when Mularkey was calling the shots the offense became stagnant.

The next question to answer is how does Matt take the next step and become a successful playoff QB. Well having a new OC Dirk Koetter should help (a hire that I am pretty happy with now) and a full offseason to bed in with WR Julio Jones and Roddy White, whilst also preparing for one last run with Tony G.

Another thing which should help is the terrific hire of Mike Nolan. With a solid defense, less responsibility will fall on Ryan’s shoulders to score 40 a game and should give him a better chance for success in the postseason. To be honest i still trust Matt Ryan tremendously in the last two minutes of the game, he still is Matty Ice and if we can actually keep a playoff game close, Matt will win it for us, he is just that type of player.

While Ryan is the future starter, it is naive not to look at his backups. If you want to look at the value of a backup QB just ask the Colts, whose season went down the drain after Peyton Manning was ruled out for the year.

Current backup Chris Redman, is a free agent and I can’t see him returning after pretty poor performances in the preseason the last two years and at 34 years old, he is no youngster anymore.

3rd string QB John Parker Wilson is on the bubble in Atlanta. While the Falcons like his upside (enough to promote him from the practice squad when other teams inquired) i would imagine they would be looking for more out of him by now after his 3rd season as a Falcon. After 2 seasons on the 53 man roster, JPW did not make the active roster in 2011 as he only made the practice squad (until later being called up). My guess right now would be the Falcons hang onto him (especially with Redman likely leaving) until they can find a better option.

Looking at the landscape of the NFL right now, the Falcons could go in a few different ways in their search for a backup QB. The draft will be a difficult spot to find a high quality backup due to the lack of picks the Falcons currently possess. As a result i wouldn’t expect a QB to looked at until the 6th round.

In terms of free agency, David Garrard is a name that has been talked about a lot recently due to his connection with Dirk Koetter in Jacksonville.

A couple of other names to throw out would be Bucs QB Josh Johnson, Steelers QB Dennis Dixon and Dolphins QB Chad Henne. If any of those can be got for a reasonable price they are young QBs with solid upside which should provide Ryan a solid backup for the next few seasons.

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