Ever since Matt Ryan was drafted with the Falcons first pick in the 2008 draft, many believed that he had the tools to become one of the greatest Quarterbacks in the NFL. And so far in his young career he has been able to prove many of his supporters right with the only exception being his current 0-3 playoff record. Without a doubt Ryan is considered to be one of the top quarterbacks in the NFC and his progressing yearly stats are helping to prove this. But where in Falcons history does he rank? In the following paragraphs I will examine the history of Falcons Quarterbacks in order to try to place Matty Ice in his proper place.
The first QB I wanna look at is Steve Bartkowski. Steve was drafted by the Falcons in 1975 with the first overall pick. Currently, Steve Bartkowski has the longest tenure as Falcons QB. He played QB for the Falcons from 1975 to 1985. In his Falcons career he amassed a very respectable career. He threw for 154 touchdowns, 23,470 yards and completed 56.2% of his passes. Arguably his best season as a Falcons came in 1980. He led the Falcons to a 12-4 record and a playoff birth. He threw for 3,544 yards, 31 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and completed 55.5% of his passes. In the lone playoff game that year, the Falcons played the Dallas Cowboys. In that game Bartkowski threw for 320 yards, two touchdowns, one interception on 18 of 33 passes. The Falcons would eventually lose that game 30-27.
Steve Bartkowski had a rather good career as a Falcon during the regular season but his post season record was nothing to write home about. In his four playoff games, Bartkowski had a completion percentage of 47.7 for 792 yards five touchdowns, eight interceptions and a QB rating of 56.6. So even though he had a good career during the regular season, he did not have much post season success to speak of.
The next quarterback I wanna look at is Chris Miller. Chris was drafted by the Falcons in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft. Chris did not become a starter until his second year in the league. In his career as a Falcon, Chris completed 54% of his passes for 14,066 yards, 87 touchdowns and 72 interceptions. In his overall career, Chris completed 54.6% of his passes for 19,320 yards, 123 touchdowns and 102 interceptions. His best year came in 1991, the only year in which in made the Pro Bowl. In that season he achieved a record of 9-5 ( he had missed two games during the season), amasses a total of 3103 yards passing, 26 touchdowns, 18 interceptions and a completion percentage of 53.3. Chris led the Falcons to a playoff berth and their first opponent was the New Orleans Saints. In this game Chris was excellent. He completed 60.0% of his passes for 291 yards three touchdowns and 1 interception. Unfortunately, the Falcons played the Redskins the following week and got shelled. Chris threw four interceptions with no touchdowns and completed 53.1% of his passes for 178 yards. He would never make the playoffs again in his career.
The third QB I wanna examine is Chris Chandler. Chris Chandler came to Atlanta in the 1997 season. Until Matt Ryan came along, Chris could arguably be considered the most successful QB in Falcons history as he is the only one to lead the team to a Super Bowl appearance. Chris spent five years as a Falcon and during that time he completed 58.7% of his passes for 13,268 yards, 87 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. His best season as a Falcon came in that Super Bowl season of 1998. Chris was able to put up some rather impressive numbers. He completed over 58% of his passes for 3154 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. But what was most impressive about Chris was his comeback overtime victory in the NFC championship game against the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings. Chris took a rather brutal beating in that game but stood tough and led the offense down the field to set up the eventual game winning field goal by the ageless Morten Anderson. The Falcons would sadly lose the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos in Miami.
The next QB is Micheal Vick. Vick was drafted with the first overall pick in the 2001 draft. His entrance into the NFL was surrounded by a huge buzz. People were unsure if a running QB would be successful in the NFL. In his Falcons tenure, Vick did not exactly have what you would say a successful career. His best season came in his second season as a Falcon. He threw for 2936 yards on 54.9% passing. He threw 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He also rushed for 777 yards and another 8 touchdowns. Vick also led the Falcons to a playoff berth in his second season. The first game was against the hugely favored Green Bay Packers in Green Bay. No one gave the Falcons a chance at winning a road playoff game against Brett Farve and the Packers. But he did. He threw for 117 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions. He also added 64 yards rushing in 10 attempts. Unfortunately he would lose the following game to the Eagles and would only win one more playoff game as a Falcon. His Falcons career also ended with scandal after he would be convicted of running a dog-fighting ring and subsequently be sent to federal prison for two years.
Now to our current QB. As many of you know, Ryan was drafted third overall by the Falcons in the 2008 draft and has been a revelation to the Falcons franchise after the Vick scandal. During his rookie season, Ryan led the Falcons to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. He would complete 61.1% of his passes for 3440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He would also earn the Rookie of the year award for his outstanding level of play. In each of his subsequent seasons, Ryan has gotten better in almost every category. He has already led the team to an unprecedented four straight winning seasons and two straight playoff appearances. He has also broken several franchise records. Currently he is second in Falcons history with 14,238 yards passing as well as in touchdown passes. He is first in completion percentage at 60.9. All of this is done in four years of play. His only black mark is his playoff record. But as some people might have read in a previous article I wrote, many of the great quarterbacks in NFL history started out with a sub par playoff record.
In my opinion, Matt Ryan should be considered the best quarterback in Falcons Franchise history. If anyone wants to argue that fact, feel free to let me know your thoughts.