Matt Ryan’s status among the hierarchy of NFL quarterbacks has been hotly-contested throughout his career. Some have called him an average or slightly above average quarterback at best (see; Colin Cowherd’s “Andy Dalton in a dome” comment in 2017). The fact that Ryan’s status as an elite signal-caller is still in doubt is borderline outrageous, and his play this season has confirmed that.
Through eight games, Ryan has thrown for 2,685 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. He also has posted a 70.8% completion rate, thrown only threw interceptions and currently holds a 115.1 Total Quarterback Rating. He leads the league in yards per game and trails only Jared Goff and Patrick Mahomes in passing yards, both of whom have played one more game than Ryan. Additionally, he is currently on pace to pass for 5,370 yards, 38 touchdowns, and only 6 interceptions.
The Falcons have placed six starters on Injured Reserve, and a total of nine starters have missed at least one game so far. The fact that over forty percent of Atlanta’s starters have missed at least one game resulted in a 1-4 record, and a potentially lost season. Since then, the Falcons have won three consecutive games, bringing them back to .500. Ryan is leading an offense that has averaged 31.7 points per game during that span and 28.5 points per game over the season.
Unfortunately, as has been the case for virtually his entire career, Ryan is still struggling to gain his proper recognition.
There have been a plethora of hot takes regarding Ryan’s status among NFL signal-callers. Some believe that his success is due solely to former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, which is a flawed theory. Shanahan wasn’t employed by the Falcons until 2015. In 2008, Ryan was the Rookie of the Year. He has seven consecutive 4,000-yard passing seasons, which is the longest active streak in the league. And, second-longest in league history. Nobody has passed for more yards in their first 10 seasons than him. He is also one of only two quarterbacks to have completed 66% of his passes and throw for 4,500 yards in five consecutive seasons.
Ryan also seems to have a reputation for choking in the playoffs, which is undeserved. He has a career passer rating of 126.5 in Conference Championship games. Doubters will point to the Super Bowl collapse, but even that wasn’t Ryan’s fault. He had a 144.1 passer rating in that game.
Even when you compare Ryan to these other supposed elite quarterbacks, his numbers hold up. He has more career passing yards than Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, more yards per game than Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady, and a higher career completion percentage than Cam Newton and Andrew Luck.
Matt Ryan’s play through eight games has been sensational. He has been proving that he’s elite all season long, even though he shouldn’t have to. Don’t let his gaudy numbers thus far distract you from the fact that he’s been elite for years.