Atlanta Falcons: Putting Matt Ryan under the microscope


Matt Ryan has been struggling, and so have the Atlanta Falcons. It’s time to put Ryan under the microscope.

We are 11 games in, and there is a major issue in Flowery Branch. It doesn’t fall on the shoulders of rookie head coach Dan Quinn. Even though his play calling has been inconsistent the last six weeks, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan also escapes this finger pointing for the moment. The culprit is Matt Ryan.

I understand there are fans who don’t want to bash Ryan, especially with the team still technically in the playoff picture. I sympathize with you. The main reason, albeit not the only reason, the team has taken a dive the last six weeks simply falls onto the lap of Ryan. No more covering up the turnovers. No more shunning them as if they don’t exist.

Looking at the stats on the clear surface, it would seem that Ryan is having a good year. Hitting over 65 percent of his passes, over 3,000 yards passing while also at the helm of a team in the top ten in points scored, total offense, passing, among other significant offensive categories.

Nov 29, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Matthews (70) tries to block Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen (97) who sacks Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Vikings defeated the Falcons 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Yet, dig a little deeper.

For those who just see what’s on the surface, you may not see that this is quite possibly the worst season in Matt Ryan’s career. He’s forcing throws, he’s not seeing defenders who are in plain sight. He doesn’t look like his normal self. Throughout Ryan’s career, he hasn’t been known for having a rocket arm or having superior, elite level talent. Ryan has always been known as a steady but smart quarterback who rarely puts his team in jeopardy.

Unfortunately, he has been the complete opposite. Throwing a pick-six from his own goal line against Indy. Forcing throws to Julio Jones while being triple covered against San Francisco. Tossing a red zone interception that could have iced the game against Tennessee. Delivering another costly pick in the red zone against Minnesota. The inaccuracy issues that have rendered the team at times the last six weeks.

These mistakes have displayed it’s ugly face before but not so frequently. It’s legitimately to the point where you’re questioning the mindset of Ryan. Is he hiding an injury? Has he lost a step? Is he in the midst of a slide in skillset?

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When it comes to Ryan, it’s not just the turnovers; it’s mainly the timing of them. Matt Ryan leads the league in red zone interceptions with four. Other nuts and bolts in Ryan’s game has been setbacks as well.

His touchdown percentage is the lowest since his rookie year. His interception percentage is the highest since ’09. His quarterback rating of 88 is the lowest it has been for six years. Ryan’s completion percentage has steadily dropped every season since 2012.

I’m not quite sure what’s wrong with Matt Ryan. It may be an undisclosed injury. It may be an uncommon mental lapse. Who knows? Only Matt does at this point.