If there was ever a perfect example of impatient to the point of disabled, Matt Ryan would like to nominate himself. The spotlight has been on this young man since Draft Day 2008. The Boy Wonder who led our Atlanta Falcons to an 11-5 season his rookie year, suddenly became the hero. He was our savior, and we became greedy. If you are anything like me, you expected a rookie quarterback to beat the Arizona Cardinals and Super Bowl Champion Kurt Warner to advance to the next round of the NFC playoffs. He was THAT good. Unfortunately, his own success has led him to criticism. Let's explore..
As a rookie, "Matty Ice," as he would come to be known, threw for over 3,400 yards with 16 touchdowns on a completion percentage of 61.1%. He took a previously 4-12 ball club embarrassed by the scandals of Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino, and made them relevant again. Atlanta clinched a wild card spot and would face the Arizona Cardinals. The hype was so strong, you would have thought LeBron James was playing for St. Vincent-St. Mary. Unfortunately, the Falcons did not meet our inflated projections and Matt Ryan had a rare down game.
Fast-forward to 2012.
Matt Ryan has continued to impress in the regular season. Posting career numbers of 4,177 yards, 29 touchdowns and the best QB rating of his very short career. Unfortunately, as a team, The Falcons are 0-3 in the postseason since Mike Smith and Matt Ryan came to town. In this impatient world, that is enough to make you a bust. Never mind the fact that this is just his fourth season, that he is only 26 years old, or that he has had one of the shakiest offensive lines in football. A superstar can overcome his offensive line, right?
I was reading a transcript of Pat Yasinskas' NFC South Chat on ESPN. One of our loyal fans had this to say about our franchise quarterback:
Pat I'm a die hard falcons fan, but I'm beginning to wonder if Matt Ryan is just another Tony Romo. He looks amazing in the regular season, but cracks under pressure... Maybe we should start looking for his replacement in case the upcoming season is also a failure.
First of all, Tony Romo is a 9 year veteran. He has earned that title. And, as if that didn't already bother me, I scroll down to the comments and read this from one of our beloved Saints fans:
Falcons need a head coach and a quarterback. Neither on their current team is very good.
Now normally, this sort of talk from anonymous posters on ESPN would not even warrant my feelings, but I see more people online and on television who share these beliefs and theories. Good, but not great, they say. Ask Arthur Blank how he feels about those kinds of people. I understand the frustration, and I acknowledge the poor performances, but I refuse to throw such a label on such a young quarterback. Because that is exactly what he is. Young. I refuse to believe that a fourth year quarterback should not be nervous in the postseason, not with this kind of pressure. You can not expect a 26 year old guy who has only been in the league for four years, or his head coach who has only held the position for the same amount of time, to have the postseason riddle figured out.
As we all know, Drew Brees did not have an ideal start to his NFL career, but let's compare anyways. In Drews first four seasons, he threw 56 touchdowns to 38 interceptions. He posted a completion percentage of 61.2% and his best passing season was for 3,159 yards, over 200 yards less than Matt's rookie season. In 11 years, Drew has built a 5-4 postseason record. For comparison, Joe Flacco has the same amount of wins, less losses. It takes time, and I have patience.
My point is, our expectations are failing us. We saw greatness, and then expected it. Like a spoiled child, we saw a slice, then we wanted the whole cake. Maybe that is, in fact, a tribute to what Matt Ryan has done for this team. Maybe he has spoiled us. Given us so much more than what we had initially hoped for, so our expectations jumped with it. The honeymoon is over, now. It's time for us to acknowledge what was good, but support what can be great, not question it.
So, where do you stand?