Dave Note: In honor of Matt Ryan breaking 4,000 yards, I re-post this for your consideration. My own take on Ice will land Thursday.
To read the message boards, you would think that Matt Ryan was both Aaron Rodgers and Bubby Brister at the same time. He's been absolutely brilliant at times, and infuriatingly inconsistent at others. However, I've heard several people question whether Ryan is the long-term answer and whether he has actually "regressed" this year.
So, I did some digging and I believe the idea that Ryan is regressing is not supported by the statistics. Join me as we look a little deeper at our franchise QB.Most Falcons fans agree that the 2010 regular season was a stellar season for Ryan. He finished the season with a little over 3700 yards passing, 28 touchdowns, a measly 9 interceptions and a very respectable 91.0 passer rating. For those who like deeper statistics, ESPN's Total QBR had Ryan as the 3rd best QB of the 2010 season. In fact, only Tom Brady and Peyton Manning registered higher. Ryan was justly rewarded with his first trip to the Pro-Bowl.
You'd think with the decrying of the Falcons this year that Ryan would be having a terrible season comparatively. And to be certain, this team has been frustrating to watch - showing enormous potential and an amazing ability to struggle at least one quarter per game. But what about Ryan - how do his numbers compare?
Well, 2011 may actually be a statistically comparable season to 2010, if not surpassing it. Through 13 games, Ryan has nearly 3500 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. If these numbers continue, Ryan would finish the season with about 4300 yards passing (career high), 28 touchdowns (tying career high) and 15 interceptions. His current passer rating is 88.0, the second highest of his career and only 3 percentage points off his high in 2010.
Even more interesting, his average yards per completion is higher than 2010 and he is the #7 QB in Total QBR this year. His touchdown to interception ratio is close to 2:1, a very good number in a pass-happy league and comparable to QBs like Manning and Brady.
Additionally, if you look at 2010, our schedule gave Ryan more opportunities to shine. This season has been far more difficult, with the Falcons facing several top-10 defenses during the season. Plus, we haven't had the NFC West to beat up on in 2011. Additionally, shake up on the offensive line has put more pressure on Ryan this year. He's now in the top 10 for sacks on the season, and is one of the 3 most frequently hit QBs this year as well. And for pocket passers like Ryan, that has created a less stable pocket for him to pass out of.
Even with those additional challenges this season, Ryan has managed to still perform at a high level for the season and is on track for some career highs. His top 10 total QBR indicates that he is still a QB that makes the important throws (3rd downs and high-stress situations) when we need him to.
So, while Ryan has definitely had some rough games this year, Ryan is actually tracking better in most statistics than he did during the 2010 season, and against stiffer competition. This leads me to believe that the talk of Ryan's regression is nothing more than conjecture without statistical backing.
What do you think? Is Ryan regressing, or is he a franchise QB to continue building around?