We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the Atlanta Falcons’ top five offensive weapons. Falcons football is just 42 days away. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
You know what they say: It’s a quarterback league. It doesn’t matter if you have a super athletic quarterback such as Cam Newton or a quarterback with a sharp football IQ and a penchant for big plays such as Aaron Rodgers, the days of having a guy to get by are no more.
For the Atlanta Falcons, eight-year veteran Matt Ryan is still a key component to any type of success the Falcons have or will obtain. After topsy-turvy 2015 season, the critics have raised the volume of their displeasure about Ryan which makes the 2016 season about as important as any other season he has already encountered.
Even with the pressure cooker turned up which has Ryan sweating a little, the former Boston College quarterback is still an essential component to the Falcons which makes him the number two offensive weapon for the Falcons entering 2016.
Atlanta Falcons top offensive weapon No. 2: Matt Ryan
The 2015 season at times was a nightmare for Ryan. For those who may have been living comfortably under a rock, performances such as Week 10 against the Colts in which he hit a season-low in completion percentage at 54 percent, he also tossed a season-high in interceptions with three including a pick-six from his own end zone which sucked the life out of the Falcons.
His two-interception, zero-touchdown performance against Washington aided the Skins to keep the game close. If cornerback Robert Alford didn’t make a game-winning play on a pick-six, Ryan may have been the scapegoat for that contest as well.
He does deserve kudos for his play against the Panthers in Atlanta where he threw for 306 yards and one touchdown as well as his 285 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys as he help engineer a second-half comeback with both TD tosses going to his favorite target in the world, Julio Jones.
Over the years, Ryan has saved the day at times with 31 career game-winning drives over the course of his career, which places him 13th all-time in that category. However, that was forgotten as the 2015 season lived on which goes to show how impactful last season was to Ryan.
Despite the pitfalls, Ryan is still the leader of the Falcons. His 32,757 passing yards and 202 touchdowns in his pro career has been more than reliable. Looking around the league, this could have been much worse at the most important position. Ask the Cleveland Browns about their revolving door at QB over the league.
To have a passer with that much production gives the team and the fan base a sigh of relief. He has been stable and has made results despite having a patchwork offensive line at times and no running game whatsoever during some seasons. For the 2016 season, Ryan’s importance is not diminished and as long as Ryan is clicking on all cylinders, the better the Falcons are in position to win.