Atlanta Falcons can’t waste Matt Ryan’s Super Bowl window


It’s hard to deny Matt Ryan is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. Now at 30 years old, Ryan is entering the prime of his career and the Atlanta Falcons simply can’t waste his Super Bowl window. 

If Matt Ryan was quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks, they would be Super Bowl favorites. Build a championship roster around him and he will do the rest.

The window won’t be closing any time soon, as 30 is still relatively young for a quarterback. If all goes well, Ryan could easily play at a high level for another six or seven years — maybe even more.

Alone, he has the ability to light up defenses and keep the Falcons in games. To win a championship, he needs everyone else to raise their game. Give Tom Brady the 2014 Falcons’ defense and see if he hoists the Lombardi Trophy.

I’m not saying Ryan is Tom Brady — for starters Matty Ice doesn’t deflate balls. I’m kidding. While he may not be one of the ‘elite four’ of Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, he is a consistent top-10 quarterback who deserves to be given a shot at a world championship.

The past two years are gone. Ryan did all he could to lift the team, but in the end his efforts were flushed away by the mediocre play on defense.

Dec 14, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) reacts after getting hit by a Pittsburgh Steelers defender after a pass attempt in the fourth quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. The Steelers won 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

In comes Dan Quinn.

And Quinn has a plan. He knows the defense needs to step up in a big way for the Falcons to have a chance. This isn’t a quick fix, but he’s set the franchise on the right path.

The Falcons spent money, and rightfully so, but I like the fact they didn’t go overboard and buy for the sake of buying. Quinn realizes the Falcons won’t become the Seattle Seahawks overnight, but over the course of a few seasons they can challenge at the top.

Ryan’s window is wide enough to allow for some development to the roster. He has plenty of years ahead of him, which gives Quinn time to see his vision through.

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It starts by fixing the pass rush. A combination of Vic Beasley, Justin Durant and Brooks Reed is a strong start, and this is an area I’m sure will be addressed in the coming years.

The talent and depth at corner looks healthy right now, but you can never have enough talent in the defensive backfield in the pass-happy NFL.

On offense, Quinn needs to ensure Ryan has all the weapons he needs to play at an optimum level. Right now he has Julio Jones but outside of No. 11, the long-term plan is uncertain. Roddy White is coming to the end of his career, and it’s unclear who will fill the void when he eventually hangs up his cleats.

Tight end is a concern; the Falcons have struggled in this area since Tony Gonzalez retired. The offensive line has disappointed too — Ryan was sacked 31 times last year, which was 15th most in the NFL.

If the defense shows major improvements over the next few seasons and Ryan is still given plenty of talented pass catchers on offense, there will be room for optimism.

Short term, Atlanta needs to show progress. The fans need to see the team take strides forward in 2015, particularly on defense.

Long term, this team needs to be competing for a Super Bowl ring. Matt Ryan is one of the league’s premier quarterbacks, and the Falcons need to build a championship-caliber team around him.

With the right pieces in place, Ryan has the talent to lead the Atlanta Falcons to their first Super Bowl victory.

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