Matt Ryan's abilities continues to be a divisive issue among both Falcons fans and football fans. Is he elite? Is he terrible? Opinions run all across the board, and Football Savages acknowledges exactly that.
Some quarterbacks are underrated, others are under appreciated. Matt Ryan, on the other hand, is entirely misconceived. The general consensus on Ryan is that he is a conservative, limited-armed passer with zero functionality vs any sort of pressure. Oddly enough, he is almost entirely opposite of ‘that’ player. ‘That’ player is Andy Dalton, not Matt Ryan.
Writer Derrik Klassen acknowledges that Ryan does not have a cannon arm, but does not find that to be a big limitation. Instead, Ryan excels in just about every other competency.
Most everything about him is misunderstood, especially with the Falcons finishing bottom 10 in the league for two seasons in a row. Team record be damned, Ryan is one of the best passers in the league.
The article looks at a number of Ryan criticisms, and finds them to be without merit.
On Ryan struggling under pressure.
Ryan handles pressure on a down-to-down basis very well. His maneuvering of the pocket is fantastic and he doesn’t drop his eyes or waste steps when doing so. In the case that he is flushed out of the pocket, Ryan keeps his cool, finds the quickest way out, keeps his eyes down field and works up toward the line of scrimmage to make the throw easier. Textbook.
On Ryan choking in big games.
Most recently, this is rooted in the outcome of the San Francisco game in 2012. 1) [This is my obnoxious opinion, don’t mind me.] That was pass interference. 2) Ryan played quite well in that game. 3) People forget that Ryan constructed a game-winning drive vs Seattle just one week prior.
Ryan has done quite a bit in critical games such as these, but his defense has seldom been there to back him. "Excuses, excuses", right? If you want to call it that way, be my guest, but the tape has shown time and time again that Ryan shows up far more often than not in any sort of pressure situation.
It gets a little difficult to cut down quotes from this article. I would highly recommend reading through the entire thing. Ryan has been unfairly criticized the last few years despite taking positive step forwards in his development. His improvement in the pocket, particularly behind an atrocious offensive line, has been overlooked. The article correctly points out that Ryan has had little help defensively, and did not even mention that Steven Jackson was Atlanta's "bellcow" back the last two seasons.
In response to criticism about Ryan's arm strength, Klassen believes Ryan's arm is average, but he does more than enough to compensate.
His understanding of how to beat the defense before the snap, move through his reads once the ball is snapped and anticipate the perfect opening for a throw is top notch. The cherry on top is that Ryan has impeccable accuracy to complete these throws.
Speaking in terms of pure accuracy and ball placement, Ryan is among the top five in the league. Only Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning stand equal or better than him in that regard. Despite an average arm, Ryan throws the deep ball incredibly well, which is rare under any circumstance. In the short and intermediate areas, where quarterbacks really make their money, Ryan thrives as well. The touch on some of his passes is breathtaking, most notably when having to throw over defenders. What makes Ryan so valuable is that he maximizes his receiving corps by throwing passes to receivers in stride and allowing them to gain yards after the catch. Few quarterbacks allow for extra yards like Ryan does.
Fans are frequently impressed by arm strength, even when that quarterback struggles to throw the ball accurately (see: Stafford, Matt). Overlooked instead is Ryan's understanding of the game, ability to read the defense, ball placement, and accuracy. It may be easy to attribute some of Ryan's success on Julio Jones, but Ryan has lacked quality help anywhere else on the team.
As we have discussed multiple times on the Falcoholic, football analysts and film specialists are very impressed with Ryan and his abilities, even though he has been on an underperforming team.