In yet another “here we go again” moment, the Atlanta Falcons had a lead late in a football game, yet watched it evaporate, losing 34-30 to the visiting Washington Football Team. The loss drops our Falcons to a 1-3 record, with a trip to London and a game against the New York Jets (who won a game today) before Atlanta’s week six bye.
Getting back to the game at hand, one thing has been prevalent on Twitter to explain how the Falcons lost, and it wasn’t the defense failing to come away with a few errant throws by Taylor Heinecke or a couple of key drops by some receivers when they were wide open.
The blame has unjustly gone to the Falcons quarterback.
It is clear people were not watching the Falcons game and most likely they were just trying to pile on with yet another late lead given up.
If one actually watched the game, Ryan was playing much better than the first three weeks demonstrated. The team went 10-of-16 on third down (63 percent) and the offensive line held up again, only surrendering one single sack to Montez Sweat.
Finishing the game with 283 yards and four touchdowns, Ryan led the Falcons offense for a good portion of this contest. Furthermore, for the first time this season, he completed a pass of 20+ air yards on a bomb to Cordarrelle Patterson (who is very easily proving to be a great free agent signing):
And that was just the first score. The second one, he found Patterson again with 11 seconds remaining in the half, giving Atlanta the lead before halftime:
That said, plays like this show Ryan can still find the open man, and while he did throw an interception in this contest, he was bailed out by a roughing the passer call on Chase Young which arguably could have been ignored (NFL rules state that it was a foul because “the opponent forcibly hits the quarterback’s head or neck area with his helmet, facemask, forearm, or shoulder”).
So, that brings us back to the question posed in the title:
How much blame does Ryan deserve for the Falcons loss?
Some fans claim he deserves all the blame, while others say 90% should go on Ryan. Everyone has their own opinion, so that is completely the prerogative of what they saw on the field.
This is not to prop up Ryan’s performance to pin down others in the game, but let’s be honest—there is plenty of blame to go around in this contest.
Blame can go to Calvin Ridley for dropping a couple of deep passes that bounced off his hands (others were interfered with, so we give those a pass), or Olamide Zaccheaus, who dropped a pass on the ensuing touchdown drive before the half.
What about the special teams, which unfortunately saw not only punter Cameron Nizialek go down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and force Younghoe Koo into emergency punting duties and giving up a 101-yard kick return to start the second half?
Coaching also won’t get a pass here, as the Falcons had ample opportunities late to seal the game away, but conservative play-calling led to quick three-and-outs, and the aforementioned punter injury did set up Washington with short fields.
If anything, the biggest amount of blame falls on the defense.
Last week, they played just well enough while the offense was still anemic to barely beat the Giants. This week, the Falcons offense was rolling for most of the game, while the defense couldn’t bother to stop a nosebleed.
Again, yes, these Falcons players sometimes had ample opportunities to truly nail the coffin shut, but they couldn’t get it home. The end result is the final score presented on the turf of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
In the end, Ryan does deserve some blame, as does the entire Falcons organization in this loss. The team failed this game, not just one individual. So to say Ryan’s the only reason we lost is absolutely asinine and the belief that Justin Fields under center would’ve guaranteed a victory.
Official Blame Meter:
Matt Ryan: 25%
Offensive Skill Players: 10%
Offensive Line: 3%
Defense/Special Teams: 52%