Goober Pyle

What we learned: The Falcons are wasting a season of Matt Ryan’s prime

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https://theathletic.com/1292223/2019/10/14/what-we-learned-the-falcons-are-wasting-a-season-of-matt-ryans-prime/

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Through the multiple failures the Falcons put forth against the Arizona Cardinals, especially during the first half of Sunday’s game, Matt Ryan was nonetheless brilliant. If you didn’t watch the game, just take a quick glance at his statistical line. With the numbers he put up in a close game, an easy conclusion to draw would be that the Falcons came away victorious.

But no, the Falcons faltered and lost their fifth game this season, this time to the Arizona Cardinals, 34-33. While the offense sputtered on what could have been a go-ahead drive with the game tied at 27, Ryan was magnificent throughout the second half. His day ended 30-of-36 passing for 356 yards and four touchdowns with a 144.9 quarterback rating, which, again, would lead you to believe Atlanta was on the winning side.

Instead, the Falcons have dropped four consecutive games and sit with a paltry 1-5 record. While the Indianapolis Colts reached the playoffs after a 1-5 start last season, the odds are certainly slim for Atlanta to repeat recent history. For this to happen, Atlanta essentially can only lose twice in the next 10 games to have a remote shot at the postseason.

Ryan has had his share of ups and downs this season. Early, he had some costly turnovers in games that proved critical in the outcomes. Ryan’s two interceptions against the Minnesota Vikings were uncharacteristic, as was the one he threw in the red zone against Indianapolis.

Outside of the untimely turnovers, however, Ryan has played well for the most part. His game against Arizona was the best he has had this year.

At 34 years old, Ryan is still very much in the prime of his career. And that’s what makes a fifth loss in six games that much harder to stomach. After reaching Super Bowl LI, and being so close to bringing Atlanta a championship, this team has taken quite a few strides backward. Yet Ryan hasn’t taken a step back whatsoever.

Take for instance this Arizona game: When the Falcons got down 27-10 in the third quarter. Ryan immediately hit Julio Jones for 20 yards, found Austin Hooper for 15 a couple of plays later and saw the drive end with a made field goal. After the first of three consecutive defensive stops, Ryan completed seven of his eight passes that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown throw to Devonta Freeman.

Trailing 27-20 in the fourth quarter, Ryan came back to complete five of his seven throws, which included a 30-yarder to Hooper and a 23-yarder to Calvin Ridley. The drive ended with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Hooper.

With the game tied, Atlanta was forced to punt. A poor kick and a questionable fair catch interference penalty gave Arizona great field position that helped lead to a score.

But once again, it was Ryan to the rescue. He went 4-of-4 passing for 58 yards on the offense’s final drive. All game, Ryan expertly took what the defense was giving him. And with a great play design that sprung Devonta Freeman wide open on a screen from 12 yards out, it looked like the Falcons were going to tie the score with 1:53 left to play.

Of course, Matt Bryant then missed the extra point and Atlanta went home with yet another loss. Ryan proved gracious following a moment no one on the roster could have predicted.

“These kind of games never come down to one play,” Ryan said. “I think everybody in our locker room can look at four or five different things that they did throughout the game that we could have done better where we would have been in a different situation at the end of the game.”

It’s hard to fault Ryan in the slightest for this most recent defeat. He opened the game with a touchdown to Ridley. While the Falcons were forced to punt on the next two drives, the defense couldn’t force the Cardinals’ offense to do the same until its sixth possession.

Ryan, however, placed some blame on himself for not converting more drives into points.

“We had a few chances maybe in the first half and at different times in the second half where we had to make those plays, and we didn’t make them,” he said.

For the season, Ryan has completed what is a career-best — to this point — 72.1 percent of his throws. He has totaled 2,011 yards and 15 touchdowns, although a lot of the yards have come while his team has been forced to play from behind. But if Ryan continues at this rate, he will wind up surpassing career highs in yards and touchdowns.

For someone like Ryan, stats aren’t important. He gladly would trade the numbers for what suddenly have become elusive wins.

It’s easy to forget where Atlanta was prior to Ryan’s arrival in 2008. This was a franchise regularly fighting for position among the NFL’s bottom feeders since its inception in 1966. Prior to 2009, the Falcons never had recorded back-to-back winning seasons. In 2011, the Ryan-led Falcons reached the postseason in a second consecutive year for the first time ever, with a third straight playoff trip occurring in 2012. And then Ryan helped lead the Falcons to the postseason in consecutive years again in 2016 and 2017.

Ryan, who has only missed two starts in his career, has taken Atlanta to the playoffs six times. Prior to 2008, the Falcons had been to the postseason a combined eight times in 42 years.

With Ryan, the Falcons have enjoyed the best decade of football in team history. In Ryan’s six postseason trips, Atlanta made it to two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl. He won the NFL’s MVP honor in 2016, as well.

After Ryan’s addition, Atlanta went from a laughingstock to a contender in most years. But while Atlanta found newfound success under Ryan, the franchise still endured the 2013 and 2014 seasons that saw him unable to overcome the rest of his team’s shortcomings. Despite a great start in 2015 and high expectations entering 2018, the Falcons fell well short of the ultimate goal. This season — barring an unforeseen turn of events — has the makings of being another wasted opportunity for Atlanta with Ryan still in the prime of his career.

That’s something that shouldn’t sit well with anyone at team headquarters in Flowery Branch.

“Disappointed with the outcome (Sunday),” Ryan said. “Not obviously where we want to be, but our mindset has to be on where we want to go. We’ll get some rest after this trip back and get back to it Wednesday and try to clean up the handful of things we can clean up. We’re definitely disappointed and frustrated with not getting the job done.”

 

 

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It's crazy how even with the rocky start to this year Ryan is now near the top in every QB stat. He also managed to get above a 2 to 1 TD/INT ratio even with all the early Int's.

I just don't see him as the problem. The defense is giving up points on every possession this gives our offense zero margin of error and they keep insist on running Freeman acting like he is going to be his old self which will never happen. And our OL looks as lost and broken as every other year.

Emmitt, mqg96, Peteshweddy and 7 others like this

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7 minutes ago, MAD597 said:

It's crazy how even with the rocky start to this year Ryan is now near the top in every QB stat. He also managed to get above a 2 to 1 TD/INT ratio even with all the early Int's.

I just don't see him as the problem. The defense is giving up points on every possession this gives our offense zero margin of error and they keep insist on running Freeman acting like he is going to be his old self which will never happen. And our OL looks as lost and broken as every other year.

BOOM!!!  

Image result for small explosion in kitchen gif

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We really should've won the SB in 2016, so I can't get on board with the idea that we've somehow wasted anything.  A lot has to go right.  It takes more than just a good QB to win the whole thing.  We've been in the mix at least half the time, just not this year or last year.

 

 

 

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Falcons have punted the ball 19 times this season is six games, that’s less then 2016 during the historic season. They do have 4 more TO than 2016 but 5 of those in first two games and 3 of those in only game the Falcons won. 
 

It’s just crazy, supposedly a Defensive guru at HC and DC can’t give Ryan a serviceable Defense.

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3 minutes ago, falcons007 said:

Falcons have punted the ball 19 times this season is six games, that’s less then 2016 during the historic season. They do have 4 more TO than 2016 but 5 of those in first two games and 3 of those in only game the Falcons won. 
 

It’s just crazy, supposedly a Defensive guru at HC and DC can’t give Ryan a serviceable Defense.

Ryan never has a good defense or OL. TD is the main issue

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Matt Ryan, Jesse Tuggle, Scott Case, Julio Jones, William Andrews, Deion Sanders, the list just goes on and on of the talent that just gets wasted in Atlanta. This franchise just sucks the life out players. A speed bump franchise. How many times have players and coaches left here and had success? The problem with Atlanta is they always have three or four really talented players and then the rest of the roster is a joke. Vic Beasley is another Aundray Bruce, Desmond Trufont is another Bruce Pikens. Jake Matthews is another Sam Baker, Tak is another Jamaal Anderson, we just keep making the same mistakes over and over and over, for every one good draft pick there are 10 bad ones.

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The only guarantees you have with the Falcons is they are going to find a way set some horrible record, waste someone's prime, and find a away to let the fans down. We call it Atlanta Failures Football for a reason

Edited by Brehus
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This team defense has 5 sacks, 2 int, 2 fumbles recover, and allowed 56% of 3rd down conversion through 6 games.  That is abyssal and put so much pressure on the offense to go out there to try and score pretty much on every possession.  There is literally no margin of error for the offense.  

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I'm at the place now where I'm almost seeing how bad the team can do versus the output of Matt. I mean, Matt homers get blamed for that all the time, but now I'm actually doing it <for real>. It's some kind of weird thing that is just getting me through this nightmare.

Another question. Say Matt throws for 5K and 35 TDs and we are 1-15. How does that change Matt's perception to other NFL fans? 

 

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18 minutes ago, Geneaut said:

I'm at the place now where I'm almost seeing how bad the team can do versus the output of Matt. I mean, Matt homers get blamed for that all the time, but now I'm actually doing it <for real>. It's some kind of weird thing that is just getting me through this nightmare.

Another question. Say Matt throws for 5K and 35 TDs and we are 1-15. How does that change Matt's perception to other NFL fans? 

 

He is not elite because he can't carry the team would be what people think.  They won't bother to look and see a historically bad defense.  Of all the year following the Falcons I think this is the worse defense I ever seen, and the sad part is I don't think they are devoid of talents.

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8 minutes ago, freefall said:

He is not elite because he can't carry the team would be what people think.  They won't bother to look and see a historically bad defense.  Of all the year following the Falcons I think this is the worse defense I ever seen, and the sad part is I don't think they are devoid of talents.

I wish there was a stat that measured passing ability versus actual W's. Would be interesting to see who are the unluckier QBs.

Edited by Geneaut

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12 minutes ago, Geneaut said:

I wish there was a stat that measured passing ability versus actual W's. Would be interesting to see who are the unluckier QBs are.

Brees and Ryan would be tops for sure. (In this era)

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The way I see it, even if we were "clicking" I don't think this is a Superbowl roster right now. I know that the 2016 roster was similar, but we had a healthy Keanu in peak form, Alford and Trufant playing like starting caliber CBs, Vic had his once in a lifetime season and so many other little things that I don't think we could replicate even with the right coaching. Instead of looking at this season as a waste, I'm choosing to view it as the best opportunity this current core can have to retool and make another run. Hopefully Quinn stays on board until the season ends so we can guarantee 100% that we get a top 5 pick. We say goodbye to Sanu, Freeman, Trufant, Sombrailo, Mack, and Campbell draft DE, LB, S, roll with our young stock of RBs, and see if either Lindstrom or Gono can take over for Mack, who I hate to say it is not worth is a current contract right now. Maybe we can get a veteran stop-gap at CB that Oliver can learn under and go with that and Sheff as our starting CBs. 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Geneaut said:

I wish there was a stat that measured passing ability versus actual W's. Would be interesting to see who are the unluckier QBs.

This one sums up how a QB is performing at historic level but the win and loss don’t reflect that. 

I did make a post a while go comparing win loss record with QB rating of more than 100.

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4 hours ago, DogIsYourName said:

We really should've won the SB in 2016, so I can't get on board with the idea that we've somehow wasted anything.  A lot has to go right.  It takes more than just a good QB to win the whole thing.  We've been in the mix at least half the time, just not this year or last year.

 

 

 

Don't forget 2012.

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3 hours ago, likeriver said:

Only Tatf would take the one sign of life on this team and think "yea, we need to get rid of this guy."

You should see the comment sections on IG and FB. It's hardly just TATF.

5 minutes ago, athell said:

It's honestly criminal the defenses Matt has been paired up with over his career.

It is. I used to defend TD a lot and never thought he was a bad GM, but I'm getting to the point where he just can't be excused for the putrid product that's been put on the field, and it's not the first time. I blamed Smitty for the lack of talent, but now I see the problem was more so with TD.

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5 hours ago, DogIsYourName said:

We really should've won the SB in 2016, so I can't get on board with the idea that we've somehow wasted anything.  A lot has to go right.  It takes more than just a good QB to win the whole thing.  We've been in the mix at least half the time, just not this year or last year.

 

 

 

Exactly and this behind the scenes has to be soughted out or at least problem solved.In the last decade we’ve had 3 legit shots to win this thing and have come up short.We fall into these 2 year lulls after 3 year runs where we are knocking on the door.

Sure injuries hurt us last year but this years been a train wreck so far.

Offense semi looks like it’s coming around but the defense yikes I need to see baby steps a qtr at a time.

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