I had a friend ask me the other day if I thought the Falcons should go after the recently released Peyton Manning. When he asked me that question, I felt a slight urge to slap him in the face. Unfortunately, we were talking on the phone so slapping him would have to wait till our next meeting. After I got off the phone with him I started to think about the two Quarterbacks and how they compare to each other during their first four years in the league.
I first want to begin with Peyton (save the best for last). Peyton was drafted first overall by the Colts in the 1998 draft. In his rookie year Peyton accomplished a lot of things. He threw for over 3700 yards and 26 touchdowns. During that year he set five NFL rookie records, including most touchdowns and most yards passing. However, he also led the league in interceptions with 28. Even though he set many records, the Colts amassed an unflattering 3-13 record. He was, however, named to the NFL All-Rookie First Team that season.
His second season was much better. He led his team to a 13-3 record and a second seed in the AFC. They would eventually lose to the Tennessee Titans in the Divisional round. That season was the first of many in which he would throw for more than 4000 yards. Peyton was also named to his first Pro Bowl that season. The ten game turnaround that Peyton orchestrated set a league record.
His third season in the NFL was statistically better for him but not for his team. Peyton set personal bests in passing yards, touchdowns and completion percentage. Even though Peyton was personally better his third year, his team slipped to a 10-6 record and lost to the Dolphins in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
His fourth year in the league was arguably his worst season outside of his rookie campaign. He had his second worst passer rating. He tied his personal low of 26 touchdowns and threw his second highest interception amount at 23. The Colts finished the season with a 6-10 record and missed out on the playoffs.
After four seasons, Peyton had amassed a 32-32 record as a starting QB. He made two playoff appearances and held a 0-2 playoff record. He threw for 111 touchdowns, 81 interceptions and 16,468 yards. He earned 2 pro-bowls, 1 conference player of the year award, 2 second-team All-Pro selections and NFL All-Rookie first team.
Now on to Matty Ice. Matt was drafted by Atlanta with the third overall pick in the 2008 draft. Matt, along with Peyton, accomplished a lot his rookie year. He led a Falcons team to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. During his rookie campaign, Matt threw for 16 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 3440 yards passing. he also completed over 61 percent of his passes. This, along with the payoff berth, helped Matt Ryan earn the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Unfortunately the Falcons would lose to the Super Bowl bound Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card round of the playoffs that year.
Matt’s second season was filled with plenty of ups and downs. Personally, Matt missed basically 3 games due to injury. In those three games the Falcons managed to go 1-2. This effectively knocked the Falcons out of the playoffs as they finished with a 9-7 record. Matt did however increase his touchdown mark by six from his rookie season. He also threw 3 more interceptions that year compared to his rookie season. One can certainly ascertain that if Matt had not missed those three games then the Falcons could have possibly won them and made the playoffs. Even though they did not earn a playoff berth, the Falcons did earn a second straight winning season which had never before been done.
The third season for Matt was arguably his best. He led the Falcons to a 13-3 record and a number 1 seed in the NFC. He broke almost all of his personal bests. This included touchdowns, interceptions, yardage and completion percentage. He was also mentioned in MVP talks. All Falcon fans and many NFL experts expected the Falcons to go to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. However, the Falcons ran into the Juggernaut that is Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons were handed a humiliating loss by the Packers as they continued on to achieve a Super Bowl Victory.
The fourth season in the Matt Ryan era seemed to be very promising for the Falcons. They had just come off a franchise best 13-3 record the previous season and were among the favorites to make the Super Bowl. The season started out slow after an opening week loss to the Chicago Bears and then alternating wins and losses the next few weeks. The Falcons did eventually straighten the ship as they ended the season with a 10-6 record and earned yet another playoff appearance. Matt Ryan again improved on his personal bests he set from the previous season. He threw for 29 touchdowns and 4177 yards. This season, however, ended with another embarrassing playoff lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.
Matt Ryan accomplished a lot of things during his first four seasons at the helm of the Atlanta Falcons. He amassed over 14,000 yards passing, 95 touchdowns, 46 interceptions, a 43-20 record and 3 playoff appearances. He did also earn an 0-3 playoff record during this time.
Now that we have gotten a look at the first 4 years for each player, lets compare. Peyton does have the better personal statistics, no doubt about that. He threw for 16 more touchdowns and over 2000 more yards. But Peyton also threw 35 more interceptions than Matt. Another thing that I personally find more important is the record. Peyton had a 32-32 record after four seasons. Matt was 43-20. Matt also led his team to one more playoff appearance as well has four straight winning seasons. Peyton did not. Peyton also did not win his first playoff game until 2003. That is six years into his career.
So for anyone who does not think Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, I ask them to please supply proof before running your mouth. Because in my mind Matt Ryan is definitely an elite QB.