Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan Entering Make Or Break Year


Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan maybe the most polarizing passers in the league today.  Since 2012, he’s averaged more than 4500 yards and 26 touchdowns per season.  He’s also thrown at least 14 interceptions since 2012 as well. As accurate as Matty Ice has been, around 66 percent completion, he is above average and borderline elite. Why is this?

Well to be fair, his offensive line has been in shambles since 2012. Sam Baker is injured constantly. Half of our line went down in the Vikings game last year. Rookie Jake Matthews struggled with learning LT when originally set for RT and of course, there was no running game whatsoever.

The Atlanta Falcons have been abysmal these last two seasons. It’s hard to pinpoint problems on Matt Ryan but, this is a new league that we have to consider. In my personal opinion, this should be the year we decide if Ryan will lead the Falcons into a Super Bowl or not.

In 2012, that was no question, he was on top of his game and made smart choices. This year, we have a new blocking scheme that should help our running game and personnel that should be able to run it.  While I’m not expecting a deep playoff run, I am expecting to see vast improvements with Matt Ryan.

The receiving core brings back Jones, White, and Hester along with Hankerson and Hardy. The running game has Tevin Coleman and Freeman along with Antone Smith.  Tight End, which has been a weakness since Tony Gonzalez left, has Tony Moeaki and Jacob Tamme to go with Levine Toilolo. The offensive line brought in Chris Chester, Mike Person, and Tyler Polumbus.  While I still would like to have seen a higher draft pick go to guard or even another tackle, Matt Ryan should have enough to be successful this year.

So why bring this up as a make or break year? Mainly due to the shift and contract deals that have been given to recent performers.  As of today, Cam Newton is set to join the 20 million dollar club that includes Drew Brees, Joe Flacco, Aaron Rodgers, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, and our own Matt Ryan.

Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck will be expecting to get near that range. Ryan Tannehill also signed a new contract also. Of those names, Wilson, Brees, Rodgers, Kaepernick and Flacco have each been to the Super Bowl. Ironically, since signing new contracts none of them have been back with Wilson still waiting for a new contract.  So does the emphasis on having an expensive quarterback mean success in the Super Bowl? Or does having someone like Tom Brady, who willingly restructured 24 million to continue to be competitive (Deflategate or not) mean more?

The truth is, it’s a little bit of both.  Signing a major contract is an investment by your team, in this case the Atlanta Falcons, to lead your team to continued success.  Based upon that principal, Matt Ryan has done his job. The question is can he continue to do his job? That’s what this season’s for.

This upcoming 2016 draft features three possible franchise quarterbacks in Christian Hackenberg, Cardale Jones, and Connor Cook.  The San Diego Chargers had rumors of dangling QB Philip Rivers, who has similar stats to Ryan, for a couple of first round picks to move up for Marcus Mariota. 

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The reason being is based on the new CBA.  Is it easier to pay a quarterback a 4 year pennies on the dollar contract and coach them up to the Superbowl like Russell Wilson or pay a quarterback 100 million to come close to reaching the Superbowl?

The bottom line is this. Matt Ryan has been a savant with the Atlanta Falcons by never drawing attention to himself.  He’s the best quarterback to ever suit up for the Atlanta Falcons.

Yet with recent success of the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers or New England Patriots, it’s hard to decide if he is the right man for the job. Is the problem the recent coaching of Mike Smith and poor drafting before 2013 of Thomas Dimitrioff? Or is the problem deeper than originally thought?

That question will be answered this season.

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