Recently, I was involved in a discussion with someone who believes that Matt Ryan is overrated. For various reasons that I won't rehash, the person iterated why they felt other QBs would have better stats with Ryans weapons. And while I'm not going to argue the numbers or hypotheticals, it did get me thinking about why it is I'm so passionate about our five year signal caller.
He was a rookie QB who fans were split on drafting - inheriting a 4-12 team that was lead by a dynamic, playmaking QB - and having to deal with the fallout and fans who wanted his predecessor back. He responded by instantly becoming a leader on the team, and with humility and confidence he guided the Falcons to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. That's my QB.
Because in 5 years, he's lost back-to-back games only twice - and none since 2009. And for the first time in franchise history, he's given us back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back winning seasons. That's my QB.
Within the first few games of his NFL career, he was already running a no-huddle offense and guiding his teammates - something few rookies had ever done. That's my QB.
Since his rookie year, his teammates have made him a team captain every year without fail. That's my QB.
When games don't go his way, or he loses a tough one, he has yet to cover his head with a towel or bump and blame his offensive linemen. When he conducts post-game conferences and interviews, he's the hallmark of professionalism and always shoulders the blame and passes the credit to his teammates and coaches. That's my QB.
Since he entered the league, all he's done is lead the league in fourth quarter comebacks. That's my QB.
Even when he was leveled with criticism for having never won a playoff game in three chances - he smiled, accepted the criticism and just worked harder. And when the Seahawks seemed destined to make that record 0-4 - and the entire Georgia Dome fell silent in dismay - he looked his teammates in the eyes and confidently told them "let's do our job." And in those waning seconds, he threw two perfect passes that only his receivers could catch - and brought home the first playoff win for a franchise desperate for one. That's my QB.
When constantly questioned about whether he could win outdoors, he did just that in 2012. That's my QB.
When constantly questioned about whether he could throw the deep ball, he did it repeatedly in 2012. That's my QB.
When constantly questioned about whether he could beat winning teams consistently, he beat all of them in 2012. That's my QB.
And how many fans can look at a deficit of 2 points with 30 seconds left in the game and confidently say - they left him too much time, he's got this. Very, very few. That's my QB.
As a man, all he's done is represent this franchise with great integrity, decency and charity - never pushing himself to the forefront for glory, and always giving credit to his teammates and coaches. That's my QB.
Finally, for the first time in my thirty years as a fan of this team, I fully believe in the man who is calling the signals under center. I have a team that makes other fans jealous. I have a team that has one of the best W/L records in the league. I have a team that is in constant contention and has a heart that never says die. And that team is lead by a QB who has the support of every single player on the roster, because all he's done is prove himself over and over again. Whether injured, criticized, mocked, cursed or booed - all he's done in the last five years is give his absolute best every single game. That's my QB.
You want to know why I'm a fan of Matt Ryan? I'm asking you - how can you NOT be.
That's my QB.