In a very small, but very vocal group of Atlanta Falcons fans and football commentators, there is debate to whether or not Matt Ryan is a good quarterback. Instead of looking at Ryan's basic statistics, or what we see, we decided to look at Ryan's advanced statistics from Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, and ESPN, to see where Ryan measures up.
Didn't The DW do something like this five months ago, you say? This sure is lazy of you, you continue to say.
While DW wanted to look at Matt Ryan's long term success, I wanted to do even less work, and see where he has compared the last two seasons.
Why the last two seasons? Matt Ryan's support cast has been in shambles. The defense was terrible... and then it got substantially worse. The old coaching staff trotted out Steven Jackson so much that in many states it is considered elder abuse. The offensive line was so decimated that there was ever briefly a role for Levine Toilolo. Julio Jones, when healthy, has been the only other shimmer of light on this offense.
So how do the advanced statistic specialists rate Matt Ryan?
Pro Football Focus
PFF had Ryan as the 14th and 5th best QB in 2013 and 2014, respectively. 2013 was actually Ryan's second time out of the top five in his entire career. They clearly love Matt Ryan. Last season, only Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and Tom Brady outdid Ryan.
Considering Atlanta's lack of help everywhere outside of Julio Jones, that is very impressive. Ryan was also the youngest in the top five. 2013 was a complete dumpster fire, but Ryan really appeared much more comfortable in a muddied pocket in 2014. He outranked the big names, such as Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, and Russell Wilson.
Football Outsiders, another one of the highly respected advanced football statistics websites, ranks Ryan as the 4th and 7th best quarterback in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Did those numbers just elite your face off? You bet they did.
FO is a huge fan of Ryan. He has never been ranked below 13 in his entire career under their standards. For comparison, Joe Flacco has been ranked as the league's 40th best quarterback, Eli Manning was once the league's 42nd best quarterback, and Matt Stafford was once their 45th best quarterback. I hate to blow your mind, but there are only 32 teams in the NFL. There were literally 13 better backup quarterbacks than Stafford.
Similar to PFF's rankings, Ryan is a few spots below Brees and Rodgers, but has a significant lead over the likes of Newton, and remains, at worst, at the back end of the elite quarterbacks.
ESPN has Ryan as the 9th best quarterback in the last two seasons. Outside of his 14th place in 2008, Ryan has otherwise been in the top 4. ESPN's numbers seem a bit more inconsistent, but this puts Ryan around Andrew Luck's last two seasons. Ryan remains below the likes of Brees, but has plenty of space on Newton.
I am still confused why there is so much debate here. At the very worst stretch of Ryan's career, the site with the most down rankings on him has Ryan as a QB in the top 30% of the league. As the DW kindly calculated out, over the course of Ryan's career, he has been on average the 6th best quarterback in the league. He has at all times, by each of these sites, been the 2nd best QB in the NFC South, second to Brees. And despite no defense, no run game, no offensive line, and Levine Toilolo, Ryan is still among the very best in the league.