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Matt Ryan To Join The Quarterback Elite

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Matt Ryan

Falcons QB Matt Ryan has taken the NFL by storm since being drafted with the third-overall pick in 2008. Pressed into action as a rookie, Ryan has been steadily improving on a yearly basis and has now catapulted himself to the top of the class when discussing the next crop of the QB elite. Matt Ryan does not quite yet have the name recognition, or Super Bowl bling to hang with the Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady crowd. With Ryan turning in one great season after another, it’s going to be hard to keep him out of that club for much longer. As a result of Ryan’s continued success (a career record of 56-22) the Falcons signed Matt Ryan to a 5-year, $103.75 million extension in July. The deal will keep Matt Ryan in Atlanta through the 2018 season.

In 2012, Ryan passed for career highs with 4,719 yards, 32 touchdowns and a 99.1 quarterback rating. Matt Ryan led the Falcons to the NFC championship game and to the brink of a Super Bowl berth. Ryan also led the NFL with a 68.6% completion rate and was the 7th ranked fantasy-scoring quarterback.

The Falcons offense returns arguably the NFL’s best pass-catching trio of Roddy White, Julio Jones and the incomparable Tony Gonzalez. If all of these fantasy riches were not enough, the Falcons also signed three-time Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson to a three-year contact this off-season. To put things into perspective, over the past three seasons Roddy White has averaged 92 receptions, 1,345 yards, eight touchdowns and is heading into this season as the second best receiver on the roster. Julio Jones is one of the premier young wide receivers in the game with 18 touchdowns in 29 career starts. Jones is primed to have an even better season in 2013 and top the 79 catch, 1,198 yard, 10 touchdowns he put up last year.

Matt Ryan Career Stats

Year Team G QBRat Comp Att Pct Yds TD Int Rush Yds TD
2008 Atlanta 16 87.7 265 434 61.1 3440 16 11 55 104 1
2009 Atlanta 14 80.9 263 451 58.3 2916 22 14 30 49 1
2010 Atlanta 16 91 357 571 62.5 3705 28 9 46 122 0
2011 Atlanta 16 92.2 347 566 61.3 4177 29 12 37 84 2
2012 Atlanta 16 99.1 422 615 68.6 4719 32 14 34 141 1
Career Totals 78 90.9 1654 2637 62.7 18957 127 60 202 500 5

The Falcons’ offense can and will put up near video game stats on a seemingly weekly basis. The addition of Steven Jackson is a substantial upgrade over 2012 starting running back, Michael Turner. Turner rushed for 800 yards in 16 games and his 19 receptions made him a relative non-factor in the Falcons’ passing attack and offensive game plan.

The Falcons offensive line is the glaring weakness of this potent offense. While the O-line will struggle at times, Ryan has the experience and intangibles to overcome their collective inefficiencies to still remain a highly-productive number one quarterback option on a weekly basis. The Falcons’ use of the shotgun formation and the addition of Steven Jackson will help to overcome these challenges over the course of the long NFL season.

The Falcons were unable to generate a steady or reliable rushing attack and effectively turned the use of the screen pass into a substitute for the ground game. The addition of Steven Jackson may slightly cannibalize Matt Ryan statistically while allowing him to operate with greater impunity as defenses are now forced to account for Jackson’s dual-threat abilities. Jackson has averaged 45 receptions per season over his 9-year career. Steven Jackson is simply another option at Ryan’s disposal and yet another player opposing defenses will have to pay attention to regardless of the down and distance. This is a dimension the Falcons clearly lacked in 2012 and made the Falcons predictable. With Jackson factored in, he helps set up Ryan for even greater fantasy success.

Matt Ryan would have been slated to throw for over 4,000 yards regardless of the running back lined up behind him. The Falcons have morphed into a passing team and this attacking up-tempo style will only help add to his ever increasing fantasy value. The bottom line, Matt Ryan is a gamer. Ryan has missed only two games since 2008 and has led 22 game-winning drives. In 2012 alone, Ryan completed 70 percent of his passes during the final two minutes of either half. Matt Ryan is currently being targeted in the third or fourth rounds in most drafts. For a player that continues to get better on a yearly basis, taking him this late might be considered highway robbery a few months from now. “Matty Iceis a big time player and big time players make plays. Ryan is coming off a year where he set career-highs in attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards passing and touchdowns. Ryan is now poised to meet and/or exceed those numbers once again.

See where Gridiron Experts has him ranked in our 2013 fantasy quarterback rankings.

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About the author

Brian Cloney

Brian is a long-suffering New York Jets fan living deep in Patriot Nation just north of Boston. Married, father of two, IT professional, and arguably the best to ever play Madden '95.

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