An appreciative hat tip to our own illusiveflaw, who called my attention to a feel-good gem on CBS Sports. I'll quote the relevant section below.
4. Matt Ryan — People don't want to like the Falcons quarterback. Why? Over the past three years he's averaged 4,643 yards, 29 touchdowns, 15 interceptions while completing 67.4 percent of his passes for 7.4 yards per attempt. Those are absurd numbers, not to mention consistent. His 23-25 record won't thrill anyone who argues that quarterbacks are in charge of wins but you shouldn't be arguing with those people anyway.
The real chance for a massive season here comes from a weak division coupled with coaching changes. Do I think the Falcons are going to win 12 games next year? No. Could they? Sure. There's six games for the taking with the Panthers, Saints and Buccaneers in the NFC South. Dan Quinn will improve the defense (and I like Vic Beasley as a strong DROY candidate just based on sack totals). He won't completely fix things, though, which means Ryan will still throw a ton. If the defense struggles and Tevin Coleman can't magically fix the running game, Ryan's going to throw a bunch again. He should be a great fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense, with an ability to drive the ball deep to Julio Jones with regularity.
Two years ago Ryan was the leader in the clubhouse for midseason MVP. He just needs everything to click next year for something similar.
Will Brinson is a perceptive writer and analyst, so this opinion carries real weight, even if he's wrestling with the same team-wide variables the rest of us are. Those variables, of course, are whether the Falcons will finally achieve some balance on offense and how good the entire team will be, which will certainly help to determine both Ryan's numbers and his chances of winning MVP (hint: if the team posts a losing season, not great). In any context, though, Ryan's typical numbers will get him a little buzz on an improved Falcons team.
The question is whether he can take another step forward. In this passing-heavy league, Ryan's prolific passing numbers are not unusual, and he doesn't have the notoriety and eye-popping stats that Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees manage to post. There's little question the Falcons need to post a playoff-caliber season and Ryan needs to put up over 30 touchdowns and 4,500 yards to enter into this conversation. Considering he was working without a ground game and with Levine Toilolo as his sole tight end last year, and considering he now has Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman on the ground and Jacob Tamme to toss lobs at, it's a good bet he'll at least improve on his 2014 numbers.
Ultimately, the MVP award would be a hell of a prize for Ryan, but I'm more interested in seeing the team play well enough that he's in the running. That's the real reward for Falcons fans who gritted their teeth through the last two years.
Be sure to click through and read the whole article to learn who Brinson has ranked above Ryan.