It isn’t hard to admit that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan didn’t have the best game of the season against the Redskins. He threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, and the offense (with Ryan at the helm) wasn’t terribly effective early. He did lead the Falcons to a victory, and looked extremely sharp in the 3rd & 4th quarters. Ryan truly led this team to the victory, especially in the 4th quarter.
Two things haven’t been historically true of Ryan. The first is that he hasn’t always been outstanding on the road in outdoor stadiums. It’s not the kind of thing that you like to have on your reputation, but for whatever reason, the splits show this to be a historical trend. Not always true, but a trend.
Ryan was very sharp late in the ball game. Early he was having difficulty getting in sync with his receivers, and the offense really struggles. But in the final two quarters Ryan looked like the player whose name is in contention for the NFL MVP award. He led the team, outdoors, and in the rain to a 4th quarter comeback against the Washington Redskins. It seems like Ryan looks comfortable and great outdoors in any environment now. He’s looking more complete than ever.
The second thing is his throws outside the numbers. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information, Ryan was 19 of 25 for 184 yards and registered both of his touchdown passes on throws outside of the numbers.
Ryan has been called a ‘between the numbers’ style of passer. And truly, when he has had a receiver to throw to over the middle part of the field, he has picked that receiver most of the time. But against the Redskins, he was able to take advantage of throwing outside of the number, and he was very sharp, completing 76% of his passes. His passer rating outside the numbers was 122. That’s really good.
What does it show? It proves, once more, that Ryan has the arm strength to get the ball to the outside and can make every throw in an NFL route tree. He clearly has what it takes. And I’m not sure we have even seen the ceiling for Matt Ryan. Every game this offense leaves a few plays, some of them big plays, on the field. Imagine what can happen when this team hits on all of those big plays and doesn’t hurt itself by turning the ball over? It would be accurate to say that Matt Ryan and the Falcons have some things to work on offensively. But it would also be accurate to say that we are only scratching the surface of what this team can do.