Ryan is remarkably consistent in how he operates under pressure. After landing in the seventh spot on this list in 2019, Ryan returns in the same position in 2020 but with slightly better numbers. Ryan's passer rating and CPOE under pressure were both better in 2020 than they were in 2019 (thank you, Calvin Ridley), but Ryan faced more pressures (189; third-most in the NFL) than any other passer on this list. It's worth noting Ryan also attempted more passes under pressure than anyone else here (148; third most in the league), but the latter of those two facts actually makes his production even more impressive. His TD-INT ratio (6:4) could've been better, but those six TDs made him the only quarterback to have at least six scores through the air versus pressure in each season since 2016. The only other quarterbacks to have even three such seasons in that span are Tom Brady and Ryan Tannehill. And Ryan's CPOE (+4.5%; fifth-best in the NFL) and total completions under pressure (83; second-most in the league) tell us most of what we need to know: Everything can be crashing to the ground around him, and Ryan is still going to stand tall amid the chaos and deliver. Falcons fans hope a busy offseason will combine with that fact to produce a better result for their team in 2021. History suggests Ryan will hold up his end of the bargain.
Ranking the 16 worst NFL offseasons of 2021: Which teams struggled and didn't improve? (espn.com)
28. Atlanta Falcons
What went right: The Falcons hired Arthur Smith to be their coach, but I might be more excited about the the fact that Smith coaxed defensive coordinator Dean Pees out of retirement. The former Patriots, Ravens and Titans coach has a long track record of success, and Tennessee fell from 18th in DVOA in their final season with Pees to 29th without the veteran a year ago. The Falcons will need Pees, given that they probably have the worst secondary in the league on paper.
What went wrong: A brutal cap situation forced the Falcons to let veterans Alex Mack and Keanu Neal leave. It might also be one of the reasons franchise icon Julio Jones follows them out the door, with the star wideout reportedly asking for a trade this spring. The Falcons need to clear out more cap space solely to sign their draft class, which could lead to a Jones trade in the weeks to come. They might be able to get a first-round pick in next year's draft for Jones if new general manager Terry Fontenot plays his cards right, but there's no great outcome here for this team. Seeing the future Hall of Famer line up elsewhere is going to make Atlanta fans sick to their stomachs.
What they could have done differently: The big question for the Falcons came down to how they cleared out cap space for 2021. Fontenot was going to need to restructure at least one big contract to make room, and the player he chose was going to inform what they were doing with the No. 5 overall pick. Fontenot chose to restructure Matt Ryan's deal, which pointed toward Atlanta avoiding a quarterback. Fontenot & Co. ended up drafting tight end uber-prospect Kyle Pitts.
The other way to do it would have been to call time on Ryan's future. Atlanta could have restructured the contracts of Jones and Grady Jarrett, drafted a quarterback at No. 5 and traded Ryan after the 2022 season. I think I prefer the way the Falcons handled it in real life, but if Fontenot and Smith loved Justin Fields or Mac Jones, they could have gone in this other direction.
What's left to do: Extend Calvin Ridley. After the Jones trade, one thing the Falcons can do to try to mollify a frustrated fan base is make sure that their other wideout is sticking around. Ridley is a free agent after 2021, and while the team can't afford a massive raise on its current cap, it should be able to use a multi-bonus structure to keep Ridley around for the next several seasons.
I talk about it all the time but the Matthews family is huge and there are a lot of them in the league. HoF guys. Jessie Tuggle is my personal GOAT. He's my favorite of all time with Abraham and Turner close by. Tuggle is also not a HoFer so I never expected it.
Am I the only one that doesn’t give a flip???
I long ago stopped cheering for the names on the back of jerseys(not emotionally invested at all)so as long as we don’t get jobbed on the trade, I wish him luck on how new squad.