Training camp is almost here, and it should be an interesting interval for the Falcons. There are a lot of new faces on the team vying for roster spots, and in some cases significant playing time or a starting role. The Falcons don't have any quarterback controversy in terms of the starting role, but there have been some changes from last season, and the backup quarterback battle is one to keep an eye on during training camp.
Matt Ryan is locked in as the starter. Last season Ryan managed 4,515 passing yards, a completion percentage of 67.4, and 26 touchdowns while playing behind a nightmare of an offensive line and with his top two receivers sidelined with injuries for the better part of the season.
Pencil in T.J. Yates as the backup quarterback. Yates has the game experience that Atlanta has been lacking in a backup quarterback since Chris Redman's departure. Yates also has valuable postseason experience, having started two playoff games for the Texans in 2011, beating the Cincinnati Bengals in the wildcard round and then losing to the Ravens in the divisional round. In three games last season, Yates completed 15 of 22 passes for 113 yards, no touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Sean Renfree is probably third on the depth chart at this point. Renfree was drafted out of Duke University by the Falcons in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft and spent last season on injured reserve. In his senior season at Duke Renfree completed 297 of 441 passes for 3,113 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Jeff Mathews, an undrafted free agent rookie out of Cornell University, finished his senior season having completed 228 of 360 passes for 2,953 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
What's New in 2014?
The Big Question
The biggest question at this position will be whether or not Sean Renfree or Jeff Mathews can perform well enough to supplant T.J. Yates as the backup, but considering Yates' game experience at the position, it's a pretty long shot.
Best Case Scenario
Matt Ryan stays healthy, the receivers stay healthy, the offensive line is improved, Ryan has a career season and leads the Falcons to a Super Bowl victory, and T.J. Yates does a stellar job of holding a clipboard on the sidelines.
Worst case scenario
Ryan has been extremely durable, and while Yates seems like a reasonably viable backup option, Matt Ryan going down to injury would absolutely not be ideal.
When T.J. Yates led the Texans to a playoff victory in 2011, it was the team's first playoff appearance and first playoff win.
I don't even want to bring this up, but I know someone else will, so I'll beat you to it. Yes, Matt Ryan and T.J. Yates have the same number of playoff wins.
T.J Yates also was the punter for his high school team.
Matt Ryan invented a game for the NFL's Play60 campaign called Folleyball.