There’s no question, Matt Ryan is a franchise quarterback, one who with any help would be in the playoffs year in and year out.
This past season, however, Ryan hit a bit of a speed bump. He turned the ball over a career high amount of times and consistently was not the clutch player of years past. There was a marked step back taken in Ryan’s level of play leaving a lot of fans wondering what was the cause.
The most obvious reason is the playbook change. Ryan went from being one type of quarterback to a completely new one with Kyle Shanahan’s playbook. For the first time since his rookie year he had to relearn everything he knew about the Atlanta Falcons offense. The toll that it took on his level of play was obvious. He is suited to run the style of offense he was accustomed to and not the offense that Shanahan wanted.
It took much too long for them to seemingly get together on what style worked best for them both. This is something that is easily fixable and should be put right this year.
Leonard Hankerson was Ryan’s number two look on most plays. Let that sink in for a bit. Yes, Ryan has one of the best receivers in the league to throw it to in Julio Jones. Outside of Jones, he had no one he could trust: Roddy White had slowed down and Hankerson was later cut.
Ryan’s number two receiver was never set, never consistent and constantly in flux. For a QB who has been spoiled with the consistent tandem of White-Jones this makes a huge difference in how he sees the field.
The Falcons worked to address this problem in the offseason adding former Bengal Mohamed Sanu. While there are doubts that Sanu will be the legitimate second threat that the Falcons are lacking there is little doubt he is an improvement.
Sanu is a gadget player that will work perfectly in the offense that Shanahan wants to run. He will line up at all different positions and keep the defense guessing as to how he is going to be used on any given play.
Ryan is too good of a quarterback to ignore these problems and have back-to-back poor seasons. No doubt with a year to get used to the new offense, and a legitimate number two receiver, he should quiet those who doubt his ability.