2020 will play a major role in the legacy of Matt Ryan

To most fans, longtime Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a sure Hall of Famer.

However, to some, Matt Ryan is a teetering hall of Famer who will eventually get there as time goes on. The will-be 35-year-old quarterback will enter into his 13th season in the NFL and all have been with the Atlanta Falcons.

The 2020 NFL season will essentially be the start of the fourth quarter for Matt Ryan‘s NFL career and could be one of the more important years. For what it’s worth, Matt Ryan has 30 4th quarter comebacks, only five behind the active leader (Brees, 35). Maybe his career fourth-quarter can benefit from his clutch persona.

A lot of opinions are fueled by recency bias and when looking at the past two seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, they have underachieved by a hefty margin. While neither season was to any fault of Ryan, the individual success of players, especially at the quarterback position, usually falls by the wayside when the team goes 14 – 18 over the course of two seasons.

In 2018, Matt Ryan put up stats that were comparable to his 2016 MVP season that saw the Atlanta Falcons represent the NFC in Super Bowl 51. Why wasn’t he in any consideration to be the league MVP in 2018?

Simple, the team went 7-9 and missed the playoffs after many predicted the team to advance to Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta. Also, a guy by the name of Patrick Mahomes took the league by storm and had the best season ever by a quarterback.

2016  (11-5)

  • Yards: 4,944
  • Comp. %: 69.9
  • TD/INT: 38/7

2018  (7-9)

  • Yards: 4,924
  • Comp. %: 69.4
  • TD/INT: 35/7

Matt Ryan in 2018 also had a 108.1 passer rating, which is the highest ever in the NFL for a quarterback playing on a team with a losing record. No matter if it’s a winning season or a losing season, Ryan still shows up.

2019 also saw Matt Ryan have comparable stats to another stellar season for the Atlanta Falcons, the 2012 campaign that saw their super bowl hopes fall short as Ryan couldn’t connect with Roddy White on a 4th and four near the goalline.

Ryan played in one less game in 2019 than 2012, so his numbers aren’t quite there.

2012  (13-3)

  • Yards: 4,719
  • Comp. %: 68.6
  • TD/INT: 32/14

2019  (7-9)

  • Yards: 4,466
  • Comp. %: 66.2
  • TD/INT: 26/14

When someone mentions the name Matt Ryan in regards to where he ranks amongst his peers, he’s either disregarded as a super bowl folly, or people make exceptions to his performance as simply “garbage time” stats.

Drew Brees went 7-9 four times in five years from 2012 to 2016, never once passing for less than 4,800 yards, twice for over 5,000. Where are those “garbage time” naysayers? Or hs his narrative fallen to recency bias as well?

Super Bowl wins also don’t define a quarterback’s legacy, they can enhance it but by no means is it an end-all-be-all when determining whether or not someone is a Hall of Famer.

Dan Marino has no super bowl wins, both Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees have one win each – the same amount of wins as Trent Dilfer, Eli Manning has two wins and no one is saying he’s an elite quarterback.

Adding a Super Bowl 51 win to Matt Ryan’s resume would cement Ryan into the same conversation we have about the current NFL elites. However, Ryan’s loss falls on the shoulders of a running back that can’t block and a holding call that negates a game-sealing play, but yet the blame is placed on Ryan

So yes, while having a super bowl is a huge accomplishment and raises the legacy of any player, it doesn’t end there. It’s the entire body of work, and Matt Ryan’s body of work lives on the same level as that of Rodgers and Brees.

It’s not hard to imagine that when his career is all said and done, without a super bowl win, Matt Ryan will go down as one of the league’s most underappreciated quarterbacks ever.

While people like to believe that the Atlanta Falcons saw their super bowl window close in the 2018 playoffs in Philadelphia, it is still open. Almost closed, but still open.

2020 will see the Atlanta Falcons go head to head with the league’s best and give us a clear picture of where Matt Ryan ranks amongst his peers. It will be nice to see what Ryan has to offer when the Atlanta Falcons go to Kansas City and share the field with Patrick Mahomes.

Who else will Ryan share the field with this coming season?

Week 1: Russell Wilson
Week 2: Dak Prescott
Week 4: Aaron Rodgers
Week 6: Kirk Cousins
Week 7: Matthew Stafford
Week 11/13: Drew Brees
Week 15/17: Tom Brady
Week 16: Patrick Mahomes

When looking at the schedule and seeing the team’s recent form, I can understand having little faith that the team gets 10+ wins. However, when you have Matt Ryan at quarterback, each of these games is very winnable and maybe this can finally put to rest the Matt Ryan naysayers.

The final outcome of the 2020 NFL season won’t be at the hands of Matt Ryan, because he has proven that no matter if the team gets double-digit or single-digit wins, he will still perform and be amongst the league’s best. The defense needs to provide Matt Ryan with adequate support to finally give this city and our players the trophy they long deserve.

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