Matt Ryan received a huge payday last offseason, making him one of the highest paid players in the NFL. He followed up with a 4-12 year, finishing with his worst record as a starter in six seasons with the Falcons. Fans and analysts might point fingers at the $100 million quarterback, but how much of Atlanta's failure actually falls on him?
Not much, if you were keeping track each week.
Did Ryan's play take a step back in 2013? At times, sure. His decision making fluctuated. He made on-the-money throws downfield. He made everyone scratch their heads in wonder. We experienced a wide range of emotions watching him under center.
But consider what Ryan went through. Julio Jones landed on injured reserve after five games. Sam Baker played sparingly, ailing for the majority of the year. And worst of all, the Falcons offensively line was the exact definition of a dumpster fire. Quite a combination.
Let's start by looking at some of the stats as we take on look back on quarterback play in Atlanta. Dominique Davis attempted five passes, so I hope you'll be fine with me focusing on Ryan.
*denotes career high
The passing game continues to expand with Dirk Koetter calling the shots offensively. Ryan threw more passes than ever before, and he wasn't far off from last year's career-high in completion percentage. Now for even better stats!
|Sacks||Drops||Hit||Hurries||Avg. time to throw|
Upon seeing those numbers, Matt Ryan decided to take his offensive line out to dinner. He took them to Shoney's.
Week 7 vs. Tampa Bay. Ryan was a surgical 20-of-26 passing for 273 yards and three touchdowns. Pro Football Focus rated Ryan's Week 4 performance against the Patriots as his best of the season.
Week 8 at Arizona. He threw four picks on 61(!) pass attempts. It was an awful game so let's stop talking about it.
When you only win four games, you don't have too many fond memories. This 81-yard touchdown to Julio was probably the high point of the season. The Falcons went up 14-0 and we all started to think, "Hey, everything's going to be alright." Is that sad? It's kind of sad.
Take your pick. Neither were his fault, but it's hard to believe these two plays happened at the end of games in back-to-back weeks.
Final grade: B+
Grading Ryan was difficult. You can't fault him for a terrible offensive line. The play-calling was questionably conservative more often than not. But to completely candid, I didn't feel like I was watching the same face of the franchise every week. Maybe that was a result of the injuries/poor play. Roddy White wasn't even healthy until the end of the season. I'm not sure how many quarterbacks would look impressive with Harry Douglas as their leading receiver. Ryan was still a top 10 passer.
Years under contract
Ryan (5): $9.5 million base salary, $17.5 million cap hit in 2014
Davis (1): $570,000 base salary, $570,668 cap hit
Sean Renfree (3): $420,000 base salary, $431,474 cap hit
It seems like they're set with backups. Seth Doege won't be around on the practice squad.
Ryan is locked in for the long haul, and Atlanta is fortunate for that. The front office needs to address the offensive line in the offseason, if they weren't aware already. It's somewhat a miracle Ryan did not suffer any serious injuries with the number of hits he took. You spend the money to lock up your franchise player, now it's time to protect him.
If Renfree stays healthy, he could become the No. 2 at some point. They'll have to decide what to do with Davis next offseason.
Having Jones and White at 100 percent will be a huge difference for 2014. Baker's health is always in question, but that's a major plus if he returns to his 2012 form. Just get Ryan some pass protection, that's all I ask. How do you feel about his performance this season, and what do you expect for next year?