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Matt Ryan's 1-4 Playoff Record Is Meaningless In 2017

Jerry Maguire

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OK, guys, I just published this article.  I will post everything here, but please give the link some clicks, and let me know what you think. 


 Matt Ryan's 1-4 Playoff Record Is Meaningless in 2017

“Perception and reality are two different things” – Tom Cruise

Matt Ryan has a reputation.  Matt Ryan is a playoff choker, and everyone knows it!  Do they? Coming off one of the greatest quarterbacking seasons in NFL history, way more than a minority have reportedly predetermined playoff failure for the Falcons, simply because of Ryan’s 1-4 record in the postseason. While it may sound safe to bet against Ryan and the Falcons, it’s risky business.  “Experts” and analysts who put their chips on “Playoff Eli” this past weekend walked away with empty pockets, for good reason.   It may have served as an interesting conversation point, but Eli’s previous playoff record ultimately had no bearing on the Giants’ playoff hopes.  The truth, if you can handle it, is that Matt Ryan’s 1-4 playoff record is also meaningless in 2017, and here are three reasons why:


  1. Things Are Not Always as They Appear (A Tale of Three Quarterbacks)

The chart below lists the numbers of three quarterbacks after five playoff games.  Of the three, two have won NFL Championships and have a winning playoff record.

Quarterback Passer Rating* Pass Yards TD/INT YPA*
A 88.4 873 6/4 6.89
B 84.3 1230 9/7 6.56
C 45.0 660 1/6 5.33

*Represents the average on a per game basis.

I’m sure you will have guessed that two of the three quarterbacks are Matt Ryan and Eli Manning.  Manning is QB A and Ryan is QB B.  Quarterback C is Joe Flacco.  As you can see, his numbers are so shockingly bad that it would lead you to expect a winless playoff record; they are night and day compared to Ryan’s!  Even so, Flacco was perceived by many to be a good playoff quarterback, and everyone knows Ryan underperforms.  This perception is based solely upon a win-loss record that, in hindsight, is usually placed completely upon the shoulder of the quarterback, with little to no context.  Although Manning and Flacco made their fair share of mistakes, both the Giants and Ravens teams were good enough to overcome them and each win three out of five, respectively.


  1. Dan Quinn’s Falcons are not Mike Smith’s Falcons.

In contrast, the Mike Smith led Falcons simply were not good enough to go into Arizona during Ryan’s rookie season and beat Kurt Warner and a Cardinals team that came a toe-nail shy of the Lombardi.  (Ryan played admirably considering rookie QBs usually don’t perform so well in the playoffs.) No, these Falcons simply were not good enough to stop Aaron Rodgers in one of the greatest playoff performances in NFL history.  Context cannot be overstated.  Would anyone pick Trent Dilfer (5-1) over Peyton Manning, who was 2-3 after five playoff games?  Highly doubtful.  But, this is essentially the same type of logic as picking Eli over Ryan in 2017.  However, picking the Ravens team that was quarterbacked by Dilfer over a Colts team quarterbacked by Peyton is altogether a different story.

Therefore, everyone’s focus should be upon whether the 2016-2017 Falcons coached by Dan Quinn are a better team than any under Mike Smith, and any opponents they will play this season.  There are only four other players than Matt Ryan that are still on the roster since the end of the 2012 season, the last time the Falcons played in a playoff game.  Those players are Jonathan Babineaux, Matt Bryant, Sean Weatherspoon (IR), and Julio Jones, who was drafted as a direct result of the embarrassing loss at home in 2011 to the Packers.  Quinn and the Falcons’ front office seemed to make all the right moves last offseason, assembling a team that arguably is more talented than any team guided by Mike Smith.  In route to becoming an historically great offense, the defense, while still young and experiencing growing pains, features a rugged and physical style of play.  The Falcons are a very aggressive team under Dan Quinn; they were a very conservative team under Mike Smith.  Considering these differences, it just simply is not a fair argument to count on these past playoff losses as a gauge of future results.


  1. 2017 Matt Ryan is the best version yet.

When looking at Ryan’s career, three years stand out.  He had a phenomenal season for a rookie, which led to some awfully high expectations, but besides the quantum leap this season, Ryan’s numbers improved drastically from previous years only in 2012.  That year he threw for more touchdowns (32), had a higher passer rating (99.1), and yards per attempt (7.67) than ever before.  Ryan’s progress translated to the playoffs, as he led his team to a last second come from behind victory over the Seahawks at home.  Against San Francisco, he threw for 396 yards, 3 TDs against 1 INT, averaged 9.43 YPA, and finished with a passer rating of 114.8.  It was his best playoff game yet, and had Harry Douglas not tripped over his own feet, you probably wouldn’t be reading this right now.  Even though Ryan also had a fumbled snap in that game, Ryan’s performance was worthy of a win.

As good as that Ryan was, Ryan v.2017 was a machine. The Iceman was the NFL’s top gun.   being named to the AP All-Pro first team and making a firm case to be voted MVP of the league.  I won’t overload you with the well-known broken records and stats, but it is worth restating that Matt Ryan had one of the best quarterback seasons of all time, and because Ryan’s elevated level of play translated into the playoffs in 2012, is there any logical reason to suspect that this will not happen again?


The Year of the Falcon?

Looking at everything objectively, the “Matt Ryan can’t win in the playoffs” argument should have been put to bed after the 2012 season, but that doesn’t make for the most entertaining sound bytes.  Now, I can’t tell you if the Falcons will accomplish mission impossible.  What I can do is remind everyone that both Aaron Rodgers (3) and Eli Manning (4) have multiple seasons of being ousted after one game, and Peyton Manning finally got his ring even when people were betting against him because of past playoff losses.  I can also tell you that Flacco eventually drastically improved his play in postseason, and came away with the title. It doesn’t take a lot of guts to bet against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, but it does take a lot of bias and an unbalanced view of history.  Personally, I’m betting that this is the season Ryan and the Falcons blast that bias into oblivion.

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Thanks on article, Tom. Just finished watching 1st half October 16th game in Seattle: 1. Team played Cover 1 Man almost entire half, means Quinn trusts his back 7/8 in coverage; 2. Refs weren't problem, but a blitzing LB 80% of time was killing ICE (Shannahan needed go to a 2 TE maximum protection set before the LAST series of half.); 3 Chester was solid, Schraeder was getting beat by Avril/Bennett; 4. The Punisher concussed Michaels during his TD run. Michaels never returned; 5. The Oline was not as polished in blocking and coverage as it is now; 6. JJ scored on the opening series of the 3rd in a double TE line , 2 Wide split, single back set (Should Seattle blitz a backer in the playoffs, Shannahan should go into a maximum protection set during the 1st quarter if necessary. My thoughts even though  I'm not the TATF NFLN, 

Edited by BIRDLAND 2.0
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nice article and all very informative but I swear I'm sick of people bringing up HD falling like that was the reason we lost that game. there was 4 minutes left in the game when HD fell and the way the defense was playing there was no guarantee we would have stopped them from scoring again.

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13 minutes ago, raysnill1 said:

nice article and all very informative but I swear I'm sick of people bringing up HD falling like that was the reason we lost that game. there was 4 minutes left in the game when HD fell and the way the defense was playing there was no guarantee we would have stopped them from scoring again.

Oh it's not all his fault by any means, but it's magnified bc when it happened.  Falcons didnt scire on that drive.  Imavine the possibility of only needing a FG and not a TD in that game.

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