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ATLANTA FALCONS

Matt Ryan May Be Boring, but It's Foolish to Overlook the Former NFL MVP

MIKE TANIERAUGUST 23, 2018

 

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) looks on against the New York Jets during a preseason NFL football game Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Did you hear what Matt Ryan said on the Dan Patrick Show in response to Jalen Ramsey's "overrated" remarks in GQ? Buckle up, football fans, because these remarks are about to get bumpy:

"You know what? I've played for 11 years. So I've heard my fair share of trash-talking from a lot of different people. And if this stuff kept me up at night, I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing. So I don't pay too much mind to it. I'm about winning games, and I'm about being the absolute best player that I can be."

Holy beef battles. And it gets better! Ryan met with the media on Tuesday, and he doubled down on the drama:

"As I said before, having played as long as I did in this league, I've heard comments from everybody, both good and bad at different times. So I don't worry too much about it. My responsibility is to go out there and play the best football that I can, and I feel like I've done a pretty good job of that throughout my career."

Savage! Staple that stuff to the Jaguars bulletin board! Ryan was breathing fire!

Breathing fire by Matt Ryan standards, anyway. Falcons reporters prodded him on Tuesday to open up a little about trash talk, gamesmanship or anything, really. It was like trying to train a cat to fetch a stick. 

You have to hand it to Ryan. In a league where Eli Manning can muster a wry "Who?" wisecrack in response to Ramsey's strafing of veteran quarterbacks, where even dreary Joe Flacco gets to be Mr. Chip-on-His-Shoulder these days, Ryan still dares to be dull. And consistently dull: His remarks to Patrick were so bland that you probably missed them during all the Ramsey chatter last week, so he boringly referred back to those boring comments this week so you could overlook them again.

No wonder huge swaths of NFL fandom nodded in agreement at Ramsey's assessment of Ryan, the former NFL MVP who came within a teamwide fourth-quarter server crash of winning the Super Bowl two years ago. Being consistently dull like Ryan is, well, consistently dull. Fans and chest-pounding young cornerbacks alike prefer the new, the bold and the promising—not the quarterback equivalent of dad slacks.

 

Matt Ryan appeared to be in regular-season form in completing 5-of-7 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown in a preseason game against the Chiefs.
Matt Ryan appeared to be in regular-season form in completing 5-of-7 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown in a preseason game against the Chiefs.John Bazemore/Associated Press

Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz are new and now, which placed them among the few quarterbacks Ramsey singled out for praise. So is Jimmy Garoppolo, with his 12 combined career touchdowns, eight fewer than Ryan has thrown in playoff games. Ramsey is also new and now, which is why he was profiled in GQ and not Prevention.

Ryan? He's going into his 11th season, and he's about winning games, and he's done a pretty good job of that throughout his career.

And he looks ready to keep doing a pretty good job of it this year, too.

Ryan was razor-sharp last Friday night in his first significant preseason action. He threw on the run, flung some passes downfield and easily moved the Falcons offense in what became a 28-14 loss to the Chiefs after the starters left and silliness ensued.

Few noticed Ryan's hot preseason start, because few watch Falcons preseason games (if Ryan bores you, you should see his backups), and veteran quarterbacks are supposed to look crisp in preseason cameos. But Ryan looked a lot like 2016 MVP Ryan—albeit in just two drives—during a weekend when Kirk Cousins looked flat, Cam Newton was under siege, Nick Folesnarrowly escaped an injury scare, and Drew Brees and Jared Goff enjoyed their extended summers.

Ryan's problem isn't that he's overrated. He's overlooked, taken for granted as a perennial playoff quarterback in a league where storylines always get more attention than stability.

Ryan has started 168 NFL games, including the playoffs. He's thrown for 41,796 yards and 260 touchdowns, 16th and 18th on the all-time leaderboards.

 

Kyle Shanahan is one of a handful of former Ryan coordinators to leave the Falcons only to eventually become a head coach.
Kyle Shanahan is one of a handful of former Ryan coordinators to leave the Falcons only to eventually become a head coach.John Bazemore/Associated Press

Yes, those all-time passing lists are crawling with contemporary quarterbacks because of the increased passing rates of the last 20 years, so pointing out that Ryan has thrown for more touchdowns than Dan Fouts or more yards than Joe Montana is a misleading, unconvincing argument. But Ryan has thrown for more yards than Aaron Rodgers. And he's thrown 60 more touchdowns than Flacco, a dozen more than Tony Romo and three more than Newton and Cousins combined.

Ryan has a 95-63 record as a starter. Yes, quarterback win-loss records trigger nerd rage among serious quarterback evaluators, for excellent reasons. But Ryan's Falcons amassed that record through two different coaching regimes, with offenses that finished among the top 10 in yards six times but among the top 10 defenses in yards allowed just once. So Ryan's win-loss record can't be written off as a product of his surroundings.

In fact, Ryan-led offenses have been so reliably productive that three of Ryan's offensive coordinators (Mike Mularkey, Dirk Koetter and Kyle Shanahan) became head coaches, even though some of the most memorable moments of Ryan's career have been terrible crunch-time play calls with his team in scoring position, from the fourth-down playoff sneaks against the Giants in 2012 to whatever Shanahan was thinking late in the Super Bowl to last year's goal-line travesty against the Eagles.

Last year was an "off" year for Ryan. He finished seventh in the NFL in passing, according to Football Outsiders' DYAR metric. He captained the Falcons to a convincing road playoff win against the Rams. He then led the Falcons down the field to the 2-yard line on a final drive on an icy, windy night against the Eagles before coordinator Steve Sarkisian called a play so obvious that Eagles defenders recognized it the moment the Falcons lined up.

Some off year. 

In other words, Ryan has been playing football for a long time, and he's done a pretty good job moving his team up and down the field throughout his career.

And this is the guy we snicker about being overrated?

 

Ryan isn't flashy, but he has been effective, leading the Falcons to the playoffs in six of his 10 seasons in the NFL.
Ryan isn't flashy, but he has been effective, leading the Falcons to the playoffs in six of his 10 seasons in the NFL.Bill Kostroun/Associated Press/Associated Press

There are no consensus "ratings" for quarterbacks, just a million contradictory, contrarian opinions. And in the NFL, like in many high-profile industries, "overrated" often means that a quarterback (pitcher, recording artist, whatever) has been around long enough for everyone to see his shortcomings, unlike the still-perfect-in-our-imaginations Garoppolo types. In that way, "overrated" is an unintended compliment.

The secret to success in the NFL is that no news is good news, and that consistently dull equals good. Coaches love insomnia-curing press conferences and hate fashion magazines, so they love quarterbacks like Ryan. The same fans who applaud Ramsey's candor will tsk-tsk if Odell Beckham Jr. torches him in the opener. Survival in the NFL isn't about trash talk or trending topics but about being prepared for the highs and lows of a grueling season. And Ryan has seen both MVP highs and catastrophic Super Bowl lows.

Ryan gets a rematch with the Eagles in the season opener, and then his team will host the Panthers and Saints. It's a good thing Ryan looks healthy and sharp and his Falcons look hungry and a little smarter than last year: There will be no easing into this season.

Ryan, for his part, looks ready on the field, and his non-quotable quote game is in playoff form. It doesn't really matter whether what opponents thinks of him. The smart ones aren't going to underestimate him

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well let's see, was it year two, or maybe three that Ryan muttered the infamous "you can't F'ing stop it" when the defense told him they knew what the play was.....come on media guys, watch a few games and you'll see his fiery responses come face to face ON the field, not in the papers.

 

 

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If 2016 showed anything, it's that Matt is better when the OC spreads the ball around and disguises routes through motion.  I understand Julio is the go-to guy, but every time the offense has tried to force balls to Julio the Falcons haven't been as successful.  I hope Sark has learned a lesson from last year and gets back to spreading the ball around to ALL these weapons to keep defenses guessing.

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1 hour ago, EJmusic said:

Kyle Shanahan is one of a handful of former Ryan coordinators to leave the Falcons only to eventually become a head coach.

All...ALL Ryan's coordinators, whats this "handful" BS. Mularkey, Dirk Koetter, Shannahan. Every OC that left, eventually became HC.

 

Yes I realize it is symantics, but why write something that can be construed differently.

 

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Yeah, MR is bland to a fault on purpose in front of media clowns.

But you’d be sadly mistaken if you think for one second MR isn’t one of the fiercest competitors in football. 

He earned the “ice man” nickname by his peers for a reason.  

Look, if Ice were the Jags QB. Jalen would be chirping his praises non stop.

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1 hour ago, HASHBROWN3 said:

In other words, Jalen isn’t too bright.  

LOL at least everyone agrees with that one.

 

I kind of liked what Eli had to say, 'who'??  LOL 

Jalen putting target on his back. Remember patrick peterson and his chirping a few years ago? yeah Matt and Julio might just put a game plan together if they have to play them any time soon when it counts for something

 

 

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2 hours ago, HASHBROWN3 said:

Yeah, MR is bland to a fault on purpose in front of media clowns.

But you’d be sadly mistaken if you think for one second MR isn’t one of the fiercest competitors in football. 

He earned the “ice man” nickname by his peers for a reason.  

Look, if Ice were the Jags QB. Jalen would be chirping his praises non stop.

The Jags have a ton of weapons and an incredible defense...he'd have beat the Patriots and then the Eagles in the Super Bowl last year. 

All what-ifs, but with how our team is looking to be this year...

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If it weren't for that "team-wide fourth quarter server crash" - perhaps the best description of the Super Bowl I've ever read - there wouldn't even really be a debate. On top of an MVP season, Matt put together one of the most dominating playoff runs by a QB in NFL history. But we DID have a server crash and his insane playoff stats and should-have-been-game-winning impossible throw/catch to Julio as the icing on the cake are a forgotten footnote.

Please, football gods, just ONE ring for this guy. (I'll happily take more, but Ryan deserves at least one. Regardless of his press conferences being the talking equivalent of watching paint dry, we know what we have on the field - the only place it matters - with our QB.)

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56 minutes ago, papachaz said:

I kind of liked what Eli had to say, 'who'??  LOL 

Jalen putting target on his back. Remember patrick peterson and his chirping a few years ago? yeah Matt and Julio might just put a game plan together if they have to play them any time soon when it counts for something

 

 

Julio already did, said Jalen is one of better CB in NFL. He didn’t use best CB like he used for Sherman and other top guys. The Ramsey fans on tATF probably didn’t like that. Ramsey will learn that to be best, he needs to do defend passes and grab interceptions and shut down QB.

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