The Evolution of Matt Ryan

Matt Sullivan - Getty Images

Fact: Matt Ryan will ninja kick your mom in face. And you'll like it.

Matt Ryan is not what he once was. Not even close. Stick with me, but here's a hint: that's not a bad thing.

Now in his fifth year as the Atlanta Falcons quarterback, Ryan has undergone a Hulk-like transformation. He hasn't literally burst out of a white dress shirt and chinos. And to my knowledge, his skin doesn't resemble that of Kermit. But the week four game against the Panthers was special. Not just because we made an improbable comeback. Not just because Cam Newton handed Ryan an opportunity to be great.

Week four was special because Ryan's moxy shone through. It shone through in epic fashion. During his tenure, we've seen glimpses. His moxy made an occasional showing, giving us hope, carrying us forward. Meanwhile, his talent brought him through the moments where the moxy was absent or lacking. After all, he does have a very respectable record as a starter. Moxy isn't necessary to win. But it helps. Man does it help.

What do I mean by moxy? I mean this - that can't lose, won't lose mentality. It's rare. It's a fire-driven rejection of losing. The great ones have it. The good ones have it periodically. The washouts think about having it, then they don't. I won't repeat what Ryan is saying in that instant. But I'll say this, Ryan isn't politely congratulating Carolina on their effort.

Ryan wasn't always this way. In some ways, that's OK. It's an evolution. When you first come in the league, humility is important, especially when you play for a team with our particular brand of dysfunctional history. But when you earn it, if you earn it, moxy can eventually replace that humility. Such is the case for Matt Ryan.

Best case scenario, he maintains. He doesn't regress. He thrives. If week four is any indication, sheltered humility is a thing of the past for Ryan. He's past that now.

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