A little over a year ago, after Matt Ryan and the Falcons had finally shed their reputation of falling flat in the playoffs, there was little doubt that Matt Ryan was on the verge of “elite” status. Yet here we are a year later, after a season denoted almost exclusively by turmoil and disappointment and Ryan still hasn’t found his way into the upper echelon of Quarterbacks.
In fact, many people have Ryan ranked lower than they did coming into the season, which considering last season is unsurprising.
The second-coming of Rivers also, no-doubt, hurt Ryan’s ranking as well. Since the end of this season I have seen various lists of Quarterback rankings, some from the average fan, some posted on media sites, and others involving insane amounts of advance statistical analysis and I have to say, It seems like Matty Ice is underrated. I had Ryan ranked as the 5th best quarterback in the league going into the 2013 season, and looking back that may have been too high. But he is certainly not outside of the top 10, as I have seen him in a good number of the lists I have seen. People usually justify Matt Ryan’s exclusion from their top 10, in one of three ways.
Matt Ryan (and furthermore the Falcon’s organization) don’t have the greatest reputation for winning when it matters most. In his five post-season games, which Ryan and the Falcons have gone 1-4, Matty Ice has thrown for nine touchdowns and seven interceptions (1.2 TDs per INT), a far cry from the 1.98 he has thrown for over his career. These struggles are real. However, the other stat dips are negligible. The fact is, Ryan has always had issues with interceptions, this doesn’t excuse his poor post-season play, but it says a lot the defenses inability to stop anything in the post-season. In Ryan’s 5 post-season appearances, the defense has allowed an average of 421 YPG and 31.6 PPG. There are a lot of horrible, mean and offensive things that I could say about this, but frankly my mother reads these and I don’t need her to see the influence the Falcons’ defense has had on my general demeanor. Ryan is constantly put into a position where he has to carry the team to victory. Few quarterbacks have the ability to overcome a porous defense, and those that can are the elite of the NFL. Ryan’s interception problems in January no doubt stems from him having to try to shoulder the load and consistently make big plays. This unfortunately and obviously leads to forced throws and thus a higher amount of interceptions. It’s certainly not an excuse, Ryan could make better decisions and play smarter, no question. But it certainly sheds some light on his struggles and needs to be considered, especially with the surge of heavy-hitting, mauling defenses that are taking over the NFL. In 2012, Ryan played fantastically in the play offs, (6 TD. 3 Int, 104.3 QBR, and 646 Yards), but the defense collapsed twice, and we won and lost by a few yards either way. The NFL is a “What have you done lately” league, and 2012, despite being a whole 4-12 year away, should still be the primary focus when we look at Ryan’s post-season performance. When Fans and analysts alike form their top 10 lists, either on paper of within the confines of their own football mind, Post-Season play should not be a great factor in exiling Ryan outside of the top 10.