Matt Ryan’s MVP candidacy alive despite dismal stats vs. Raiders


October 14, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) and Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer (3) hug after the game at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons beat the Raiders 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Ryan was so good through the first 5 weeks of the season, it was almost surreal. Not because Ryan is a bad quarterback, but because he was playing out of his mind well. Everyone in the free world expected him to have a huge day against the poor defense of the Oakland Raiders.

On top of this, Ryan was the most outstanding offensive player through the first 5 weeks, and was the consensus MVP through the first five games.

Oh, how humbled even the mighty can become.

Coming into the game Ryan had passed for over 1,500 yards, 13 touchdowns, and only 3 INTs, good for a 106 passer rating. Well, when you add in a 24-for-37, 1 TD, 3 INT, 59 passer rating, that total passer rating decreases to 98. The interception percentage of Ryan increases big time. And people lose faith in your guy.

Those numbers really don’t help Ryan out one bit in his chase for league MVP. They simply were putrid. But overall, his numbers are still pretty darn good. He’s tied for the league lead in touchdown passes, and that passer rating is still very good. But it’s the things that don’t show up in the stat line that will keeping Ryan right smack in the middle of the MVP conversation.

Leadership in the face of adversity. Productivity when the team needs him most. A never give up attitude. The ability to perform in clutch situations. The entire team having confidence in you. If those aren’t the attributes of an MVP of the National Football League, I don’t know what attributes are.

Those are exactly the attributes that Matt Ryan has. Since entering the league in 2008, nobody has more game winning drives than Ryan’s 18 coming into today. After the game against Oakland, he added his 19th game winning drive and an additional 4th quarter comeback. People like to mock the nickname ‘Matty Ice’ that has been given to Ryan, but I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s about as clutch as any quarterback in the league.

Today was certainly an off day for Ryan. I would classify it as one of his worst, if not the worst, statistical performance in Matt Ryan’s career. He was miserable from that point of view. But in the end, he led the Falcons to a game winning drive. He had a lot of confidence, and it showed in his play late in the game. It showed that his teammates followed his lead and helped him execute a drive to win the game for the Falcons.

It wasn’t his best statistical day; it might have been his worst. But his overall stat line is still really sharp, and his value to the 6-0 Falcons can’t be overstated. And for both of those reasons, he is still clearly the best candidate for NFL MVP.