After watching the weeks of post-season football following Eli Manning and his Giants cruise past the Falcons my roommates were quick to dismiss Matt Ryan of any quarterbacking ability. They talk about how he constantly looks to the check downs, refuses to take the big risks, and has no pocket comfortability or awareness. While most of that has to do with the porous play of the offensive line, I believe there is reason to be concerned with the last point, pocket awareness. One thing that Eli Manning seems to have gotten extremely good at is sliding around in the pocket and buying more time for his talented receivers. He is in no way, shape, or form close to being the leagues most athletic quarterback(sound like someone you know???), but always seems to be able to extend the play long enough. That seems like it was the extra step he needed to make the transition into the upper echelon of quarterbacks.
In a league were almost every defensive line(except for some reason the falcons) has athletic freaks that excel at getting to the quarterback even decent o-lines are going to struggle. It seems as if to be successful in this day and age at quarterback you need to have a sixth sense about what's going on around you. For further proof think about the debacle at the dome against the Packers. How many free rushing blitzers did Rodgers simply side step and avoid??? An unbearably high amount. Could you imagine if the situation was flipped and Matty Ice had Spoon mercilessly flying at him. I'm guessing the situation would have been a bit different. I'm not saying Matt Ryan is going to have to become as elusive as Brees or Rodgers, but he has to get better at extending the play.
There were times last year when Matt showed he is capable of doing just that. (My favorite coming on Snelling's 20 yard bruising TD reception against the saints in ATL) But there were to many occasions where it seemed he was to unathletic to scramble away from Andy Reid(For instance the good old plant the ball on the ground move that left Urlacher with a far to easy scoop and score week 1). If you look back to his Draft Profile Mel Kiper considered him deceivingly sneaky in the pocket, but I have yet to see much of that translate to the NFL. He has the accuracy, the work ethic, and the brains to become elite, but the question is does he have the pocket presence?