Recently news broke that Tony Gonzalez said that quarterback Matt Ryan wasn’t elite. Well, technically he said he wasn’t elite yet, but I think we can all read between the lines and know what he meant.
The thing is, he wasn’t wrong. Matt Ryan isn’t an elite quarterback. He’s very good, but he’s not elite. The good news for Falcons nation is that he doesn’t have to be elite to lead them to a Super Bowl championship in the years to come.
Looking back on the last ten years in the league, only four of the eight Super Bowl winning quarterbacks would be considered elite. Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for sure, and you could even argue that Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers weren’t elite until they actually won the big game. If Ryan isn’t elite, then guys like Eli Manning, Russell Wilson, Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger certainly aren’t either.
What recent history has shown us is that if you put a quality team around a good quarterback, he can take you to a title. Depth, talent on the line of scrimmage, and motivation are just as crucial to winning a Super Bowl as having an elite quarterback.
The real issue for the Falcons right now isn’t that they don’t have the right man under center, it’s that they’re seriously lacking in those other three areas. Because of their cap management they have real issues with their depth, which shows up in special teams. Both their offensive and defensive lines were atrocious last season. And, to make things even worse, they played unmotivated, uninspired football all year long.
Atlanta has much bigger issues to worry about than whether Ryan is elite or just merely really good.
He may not be elite, but he’s good enough to be a Super Bowl winning quarterback. And really, isn’t that all you want out of your starter?