Has the Super Bowl Window Already Closed on Matt Ryan and the Falcons?

Jeff Gross

A look at historical data to see if the Falcons may have already missed their chance to win a Super Bowl with Matt Ryan.

This article was written by reader atlien698.

On the surface, this question seems rather preposterous, right? After all, Matt Ryan is only 28 and, barring serious injury, is not even at the halfway point of his career. Furthermore, after a dismal 2013 campaign, the Falcons should get an infusion of high-quality talent in the 2014 NFL draft and the team has made positive waves with recent changes to the front office and coaching staff. Yet, history suggests that, if Ryan were going to lead the Falcons to a Super Bowl victory, it would have already happened by now.

How’s that, you ask? Well, let me explain. I was interested in investigating the number of QBs who led their original teams – i.e., the teams that drafted the QBs – to a Super Bowl victory and the number of seasons it took to accomplish that feat. Of course, this is a very select group, especially considering that, as of Sunday, only 31 different QBs have won the 48 Super Bowls ever played. And of those 31 QBs, only 20 of them won a Super Bowl with their original team. Given this small number, it would be very easy for one to conclude that the odds are stacked against Ryan to win a SB. However, the same could be said for every other QB who has played or ever will play in the NFL. As such, the purpose of this investigation is to get a sense of how long (on average) it took these QBs to lead their teams to a SB victory and whether there’s still time for the Falcons with Ryan at the helm.

The table below presents data on 18 of the 20 QBs who led their original teams to Super Bowl victories.[1]

QB

Team

Rookie

Season

First

SB-Winning Season

Number of Years to Win

Joe Namath

NY Jets

1965

1968

4

Roger Staubach[2]

Cowboys

1969

1971

3

Bob Griese

Dolphins

1967

1972

6

Terry Bradshaw

Steelers

1970

1974

5

Ken Stabler

Raiders

1970

1976

7

Joe Montana

49ers

1979

1981

3

Jim McMahon

Bears

1982

1985

4

Phil Simms

Giants

1979

1986

8

Mark Rypien

Redskins

1988

1991

4

Troy Aikman

Cowboys

1989

1992

4

John Elway

Broncos

1983

1997

15

Tom Brady

Patriots

2000

2001

2

Ben Roethlisberger

Steelers

2004

2005

2

Peyton Manning

Colts

1998

2006

9

Eli Manning

Giants

2004

2007

4

Aaron Rodgers

Packers

2005

2010

6

Joe Flacco

Ravens

2008

2012

5

Russell Wilson

Seahawks

2012

2013

2

Average

5.17

QBs whose names appear in italics won multiple Super Bowls for their original team. The results presented above are based on data obtained from www.profootballreference.com and www.docsports.com.

Based on the data above, the QBs who led their original teams to Super Bowl victories did so, on average, in about 5.17 years. Matt Ryan just finished his sixth season with the Falcons. Thus, based on a simple average of this select group of QBs, we are already past the average number of seasons for Ryan to win the Super Bowl with the Falcons, if it were going to happen at all. However, this doesn’t mean we’re hopeless, just yet. Let’s look a little deeper.

As Ryan embarks on his seventh season as Falcons signal-caller, it is worth noting that there is a precedent for QBs winning with their original teams later in their careers. Four of the 18 QBs listed above – Stabler (7), Simms (8), Elway (15) and P. Manning (9) – have done so. Elway is the clear outlier[3] here, going 15 seasons before winning his first SB for the Broncos. However, while this adds a ray of hope for Falcons (and Ryan) fans, it should be noted that Elway led Denver to the SB after his fourth season and had taken the Broncos to three SBs by the end of his seventh season.

Oh, and there’s one more thing about these four QBs who won later in their careers. Ken Stabler is the only one to have won the SB with the same coach who drafted him (in this case, John Madden). To put this in perspective, if the coach-QB combo of Mike Smith (who recently signed an extension through 2016) and Matt Ryan do not win the SB next season (Year 7), them doing so in a subsequent year would be unprecedented in the Super Bowl era.

So, there’s that.

Despite it all, this is merely the data talking. It is really not my aim to bash Ryan or to focus on why he has not yet delivered a Lombardi to Atlanta. Nor is it really the intent to compare/contrast the circumstances facing each of these QBs vis-à-vis Ryan’s situation with the Falcons. But what it does suggest is that, if it is going to happen for Ryan and the Falcons, it needs to happen soon. This is especially the case, considering that the young crop of QBs including Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, is bound to yield at least one SB-winner in the very near future.

So, what say you, Falcoholics? Are you optimistic that Ryan will win a SB for the Falcons before it’s all over? If so, what about the direction of the team makes you feel that way? Are you simply an eternal optimist like this guy à http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMRrNY0pxfM?

Or do you think the window is already shut? Do you think we squandered the opportunities by losing the NFC Championship at home last year? Do you think the pairing of Smitty-Ryan can get it done or no?

Discuss!


[1] Bart Starr and Jeff Hostetler are eliminated from the sample, bringing the final sample down to 18 QBs. First, I eliminate Bart Starr – winner of SBs I & II –because the majority of his NFL career preceded the Super Bowl era and would thus add noise to the analysis. Starr, drafted in 1956 by the Packers, did win an NFL Championship very early in his career; however, including this data in the analysis would then require that data be compiled on all NFL Championship-winning QBs, not just those who would still be playing in the Super Bowl Era. Next, Jeff Hostetler – winning QB in SB XXV – technically meets the criteria for inclusion in the sample. He was drafted by the Giants and did win the SB. However, he was the backup to Phil Simms that season and took over in mid-December due to injury. Thus, his inclusion goes against the spirit of the analysis.

[2] Roger Staubach was actually drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964, one year before his senior season at Navy. After finishing his senior season, Staubach served in the Navy and debuted with the Cowboys in 1969.

[3] The average number of seasons drops to 4.59 if Elway were not in the sample.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join The Falcoholic

You must be a member of The Falcoholic to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Falcoholic. You should read them.

Join The Falcoholic

You must be a member of The Falcoholic to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at The Falcoholic. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker