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Time To Give Matt Ryan His Due -- Per Espn


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Matt Ryan doesn't get enough respect. What's it going to take to validate an already impressive career? A win Sunday over San Francisco? A Super Bowl victory?

The guy is a winner. Ryan has the whole package: size, smarts, work ethic, arm strength and experience. Since entering the NFL as the third overall pick in 2008 out of Boston College, Ryan has won 56 regular-season games -- the most in a player's first five seasons in NFL history. His .718 winning percentage over the past five seasons trails only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

And Ryan has the quintessential characteristic quarterbacks must have to be successful: He is clutch.

Ryan proved that, once again, last Sunday against Seattle, when he orchestrated his seventh game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime this season. When the pressure was the greatest, Ryan didn't have the wrong look in his eye. His team had just blown a 20-point fourth-quarter lead and trailed the Seahawks by one point. The Falcons had seemingly collapsed under the pressure of having to win their first postseason game in four tries under coach Mike Smith, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and Ryan.

With 31 seconds left in the game, Ryan gathered his teammates in the huddle and told them they were going to win. Three plays later, after Ryan threw lasers to Harry Douglas for 22 yards and Tony Gonzalez for 19 yards, Matt Bryant kicked a game-winning, 49-yard field goal.

The win was Ryan's first in the postseason in four tries and helped him avoid the ignominy of joining Y.A. Tittle as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to lose their first four playoff starts. It took Manning until his fourth playoff appearance to notch his first victory. His career turned out all right.

It took Manning nine years to win his first Super Bowl to validate his career. Maybe that's what it will take for Ryan. Maybe then we will look at him differently. Maybe then Ryan will be the headliner going into big games. Last week the story was Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and the pistol offense. This week the story is Colin Kaepernick and the wicked athleticism he showed slicing up Green Bay last week.

Maybe it should be Ryan's ability to be clutch when it counts.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since his rookie season Ryan leads the NFL with 23 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. This season, including the playoffs, he has completed 70.1 percent of his passes in the final two minutes of either half.

According to ESPN's Stats & Information, Ryan's numbers in those situations are up significantly over the first four seasons of his career. His completion percentage is better (70.1 percent this season versus 50.0 the first four seasons). His yards per attempt are better (8.5 this season versus 5.1). He has four touchdowns and zero interceptions versus 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

And Ryan's Total QBR, the measure ESPN uses to grade a quarterback's complete performance, in the last two minutes of either half is 87.2 this season versus 59.3 in his first four seasons.

"He's done this," Gonzalez said after the Falcons beat the Seahawks 30-28. "It's part of his M.O."

Standing near the showers long after his Falcons teammates had scattered to celebrate, Ryan shook his head at the absurdity of having to overcome so much adversity to finally get his first playoff win. He had joked with Gonzalez that he kind of liked winning his first playoff game in that fashion, a feeling Gonzalez dismissed by saying, "You like it because you're winning."

"Yeah, there were a few 'holy s---' moments, that's for sure," Ryan said. "But I think it's how you respond to those moments. They're going to happen. You're going to have stretches. I mean, Seattle's a good team, and they were as hot as anybody coming into the game. You knew they were going to make some plays. It's how you respond. And the way we responded [against Seattle] has been consistent with the way we've responded all year."

With Ryan under center, the Falcons have had five consecutive winning seasons, with two NFC South titles and three consecutive postseason appearances. They have been almost unbeatable at the Georgia Dome, where Ryan has a 34-6 record. According to ESPN Stats & Information, among quarterbacks to make at least 20 home starts and begin their careers in the Super Bowl era, only Brady has a better home winning percentage (.851 with an 86-15 record versus Ryan's .850).

This season, Ryan set Falcons season records for passing yards (4,719), pass attempts (615), completions (422), consecutive passes without an interception (272), completion percentage (68.6), touchdown passes (32) and 300-yard games (seven).

Ryan was steady as a rookie, with a 74.1 Total QBR, the highest for a rookie among qualified passers since 2008. He was even better this season with a 74.5, trailing only Manning (84.1) and Brady (77.1). (Kaepernick registered a 76.8 but fell six pass attempts shy of qualifying under ESPN's Total QBR guidelines.)

It is time to give Ryan his due. He wins. He's sharp. He's consistent. He's professional. And he's clutch.

If Ryan leads the Falcons past San Francisco this weekend, maybe people will start to notice.

San Francisco at Atlanta, 3 p.m. Sunday The 49ers are favored after they thrashed the Packers last week and the Falcons merely survived against the Seahawks. Doesn't matter. The first-year starting quarterback is due for a slipup, and Atlanta went 3-1 against the read option this season. Falcons 30, 49ers 27.

It's funny this board is always up in arms about lack of respect but ignore good articles like this. Now you see why they keep up the "disrespect". It gets more hits and is talked about more than the good articles.

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Good read. Matt has done something a lot differently this season then the seasons past and that is push the deep ball. You can credit a lot of this to DK, but you must think the added muscle he put on this off-season, the chemistry he built with Jones, and Baker not looking like a turnstile (spelling?) is paying dividends. I'm proud of the man and shocked ESPN is writing something worth reading. That is not a bias statement at all cool.png

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Good read. Matt has done something a lot differently this season then the seasons past and that is push the deep ball. You can credit a lot of this to DK, but you must think the added muscle he put on this off-season, the chemistry he built with Jones, and Baker not looking like a turnstile (spelling?) is paying dividends. I'm proud of the man and shocked ESPN is writing something worth reading. That is not a bias statement at all cool.png

The addition of the screen pass and the fakes off it has completely opened up the offense. It's ridiculous.

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H'es a noodle arm, we should have traded him for Jake Locker or Chad Pennington, his skill set is about akin to Pennington ...we will never win a SB with Matt Ryan ...

Credit he can't even get enough credit on these boards.I actually think the media recognises how good Ryan is.

But on these boards we've got MORON's on here as above want to dumb things like off load him for a nie on 40 yr old Peyton Manning or as above trade him straight up for Jake Locker.

Alot on here are straight up clueless.

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Guest Negatorris

Lol what happened to that idiot osiruz? He said we should bench Ryan after the Carolina game and start Davis. Then another idiot said we should trade up to draft Geno Smith. I also remember the dummies saying he had reached his ceiling after 2010, yet Ryan has increased his numbers every year he's been in the league. He'll increase them even more next season.

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