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Super Bowl Champ Joe Theismann Praises Falcons Matt Ryan


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Super Bowl champ Joe Theismann praises Falcons Matt Ryan
Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

ATLANTA -- Hours before Matt Ryan had three turnovers and posted a 55.1 passer rating in last week's 25-19 overtime win against the Washington Redskins, a former Super Bowl champion raved about how talented the Atlanta Falcons quarterback truly is.

Joe Theismann always admired Ryan's game going back to Boston College. Now, Theismann has even more respect for Ryan.

"I love him. I loved him from the beginning," Theismann said. "The quarterback position is the single-most dependent position on the field. A lot of people don't understand that. The last couple of years, the defense hasn't really been able to hold up its end. So, you're out there trying to score points, or you're out there trying to catch up to teams who scored a lot of points. Then Julio (Jones) gets hurt (2013). Then he loses Tony Gonzalez. But nobody wants to recognize that there has to be a period of adjustment for everybody, especially the quarterback.

"Matt has been extremely consistent. Extremely. Now, you can see his confidence continue to grow. Once you have somebody who can throw it like he can throw it -- I always felt like he was extremely accurate -- now all of sudden you have Julio making all types of plays. You start to believe that you can do certain things that maybe a year or two ago, you wouldn't even try. And that's where he is. Plus, it's great to have a little running back (Devonta Freeman) who can go the distance in a heartbeat."

Ryan knows he hasn't played at an elite level this season while adjusting to new targets and Kyle Shanahan's scheme, but he has played his best under pressure. Going into Thursday night' matchup with the rival New Orleans Saints, Ryan has completed 76 percent of his passes during fourth-quarter comebacks against the Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Redskins compared to 58.3 during the rest of those games, according to ESPN Stats and Info. In those fourth-quarter comebacks, Ryan has three touchdowns and no interceptions.

His Thursday matchup with old friend Drew Brees is sure to spark the topic of elite quarterbacks.

"You define elite by championships," Theismann said. "Matt had a thing to overcome a few years ago because the big knock on him was, 'Yeah, he gets to the playoffs, but he can't win a playoff game.' Then he won the playoff game. You don't hear that conversation anymore. The position is so scrutinized, and folks focus on such minutiae that you reach a point that you just have to not worry about it and go out and play and feel like the team is going to get better around you.

"That's what I say: It's the most dependent position on the field. Where would Tom Brady be without Gronk and Edelman? Aaron (Rodgers) has James Jones back and he's got Randall Cobb there. He has people he can rely on. I think Matt feels that same way about Julio. And now you have a running back. If you have a running back who can make plays for you and you have a receiver who can make plays for us, you've got what you need."

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Guest facelessman07

Where would Brady be without Gronk and Edelman? We've already seen what he can do

Same for Aaron Rodgers. Still lighting it up without Nelson

Those QB's are just on another level

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Guest facelessman07

I agree. I consider Matt Ryan elite ... I have since his first year. But there are still two -- and only two -- qb's I'd put ahead of him. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Elite since his first year?

Oh no no...

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Where would Brady be without Gronk and Edelman? We've already seen what he can do

Same for Aaron Rodgers. Still lighting it up without Nelson

Those QB's are just on another level

Those 2 top 10 defenses helped Brady and the #5 overall defense helped Rogers.

They do operate on another level but they don't win Superbowls without help from the D.

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Where would Brady be without Gronk and Edelman? We've already seen what he can do

Same for Aaron Rodgers. Still lighting it up without Nelson

Those QB's are just on another level

And yet Rodgers only has been to just one Super Bowl. The year they had a superb running game in the playoffs and a top 10 defense.

Brady has won with solid defenses, the best coach in the league and solid RBs who could both run well in the playoffs and catch passes out the backfield. Oh yeah, and an elite Oline.

It's a team sport that takes abt 30 guys to win on a given day. No ONE man can carry a team to a win.

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Elite since his first year?

Oh no no...

You're right. Awkward wording on my part. I knew he was special since his first year. And I've considered him elite for many years now (but not since his first year ... he needed time to grow).

His most impressive years might have been the last 2, where he had a horrible O line that he completely masked while putting up elite stats with no running game.

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Omg here we go again with the ******** "ELITE" debate.

How bout we all agree "most" teams need a very good QB to win the Lombardi who has the supporting pieces around him.

Has anyone who has watched Ryan during his tenure here doubted he could do it given the right supporting cast?

Of course, no matter how good the team or QB, you still need some pieces to just fall the right way. Manning is the guy who has made that point the most apparent.

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And yet Rodgers only has been to just one Super Bowl. The year they had a superb running game in the playoffs and a top 10 defense.

Brady has won with solid defenses, the best coach in the league and solid RBs who could both run well in the playoffs and catch passes out the backfield. Oh yeah, and an elite Oline.

It's a team sport that takes abt 30 guys to win on a given day. No ONE man can carry a team to a win.

The year after they won the super bowl the were destroyed by the Giants at home after going 15-1 in the regular season. Rodgers playoff record after the super bowl win is terrible. Its even worse at Lambeau.

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Where would Brady be without Gronk and Edelman? We've already seen what he can do

Same for Aaron Rodgers. Still lighting it up without Nelson

Those QB's are just on another level

every qb has to adjust.

When Manning lost Harrison and Wayne to injuries even he struggled..

IMO Manning is the best QB ever.

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One thing that was mentioned in the article is how consistent Matt has been over the years. You think back to one of the examples Vaughn used (losing Julio for the remainder of the season with a broke foot) and what Matt did that year with Douglas and White, he still threw for over 4000 yards and has continued to do that. I know stats aren't the end all/be all, but you can't argue with the consistency.

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Where would Brady be without Gronk and Edelman? We've already seen what he can do

Same for Aaron Rodgers. Still lighting it up without Nelson

Those QB's are just on another level

It's more like where would Brady be without Belicheck, keep in mind the patriots won 11 games with Matt FREAKIN Cassell. Aaron Rodgers? Mike McCarthy has a system that made his backup look like a pro bowler... No One is out there doing it by themselves so why should they take away from Ryan just because he hasn't?

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