Atlanta Falcons: Is 2016 a make-or-break season for Matt Ryan?

Dec 20, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks on from the field prior to the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 20, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks on from the field prior to the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

You don’t realize exactly what you have until it’s gone and that could be what’s in store for current Atlanta Falcons starting quarterback Matt Ryan.

Ryan took over one of the worst NFL franchises at the time back in 2008 and has put together eight terrific seasons, some better than others, and has all but solidified himself as the best quarterback in Falcons history.

If you’re an athlete yourself, you know this next statement to be very true. The sports moments that stick out in people’s minds are usually the bad ones rather than the good ones. Players and fans will always remember that one bad interception that a player made or that field fourth-down conversion more than that game-winning drive.

Nobody quite knows why that is, but at the end of the day, nothing matters in the world of sports but championships. The ultimate goal of every athlete is to win whatever the top achievement is. Whether that be the Super Bowl, the Wold Series or the Masters championship. Winning it all is the only thing that matters. Nobody cares about who came in second or third. First place is what counts.

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Ryan has put all of these great seasons together but doesn’t have a ring to show for it. He made it to one NFC championship game back in 2012 in which the team lost to the San Francisco 49ers. He has a losing record in the playoffs and hasn’t been back in the postseason since falling one game short of a super bowl four seasons ago.

Ryan is coming off arguably his worst season as a pro despite putting up some pretty solid numbers. Ryan threw for 4,591 yards good enough for his third best total in eight seasons but his career-high 21 turnovers is what everyone remembers about his 2015 season.

The Falcons were pretty much untouchable in 2012. They finished 13-3 after staring out the season 8-0 and knocked off the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round before blowing a late lead to the 49ers in the championship game. Despite losing, the fan bases’ confidence in Ryan was at an all-time high. Whenever the ball was in his hands you expected something good to happen. However, in 2015, you almost expected something to go wrong, and it usually did.

Blame that on a new offensive coordinator or a lack of wide receivers to throw the ball too all you want but at the end of the day Ryan shoulders the blame. Ryan gets all the heat for the Falcons’ failure to make the playoffs after starting off the season 5-0 and he may be heading into a make-or-break season in 2016.

The Falcons have been rewarded with the leagues’ hardest schedule based on 2015 records for 2016 which couldn’t be coming at a worse time. Dan Quinn is entering into year two as head coach and the team is coming off of a colossal collapse and still is a little ways away from being a true contender in the NFC.

Even with what is projected to be a better overall roster than a season ago, the extremely tough schedule could shield that. If the Falcons play the same way the did last season in 2016, they may only win four or five games not because their team is bad, but because their opponents are that much better.

The Falcons will face off with six of the last remaining eight teams in the playoffs from a season ago inclining both teams who played in the Super Bowl. In fact, thew ill take on both teams that played in the Super Bowl on the road in 2016.

The will also face off with the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, all of whom made the playoffs a season ago.

If Ryan doesn’t turn his play around in 2016 and the team winds up with a top 5 draft pick, talks of them taking a quarterback with that pick will start to spark up especially if Deshaun Watson is in next years’ draft class.

I fully expect Ryan to play much better in 2016. He will have a much improved offensive line and will have a couple more weapons to throw the ball too. He has a season under his belt in Kyle Shanahan’s offense and will have another great running attack which should take some of the pressure off of him.

This team even with the brutal schedule should be good enough to make it to the postseason but believe this, if they crash and burn two years in a row, fans will be calling for Ryan’s head more than ever.

Next: Is the Atlanta Falcons' offense set for 2016?

Do you think this is a make-or-break season for him? If so, why?