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Recognizing Matt Ryan’s historic season...and scrambling

Ryan is doing great work as a passer, but he never gets his due as a runner.

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Let’s be candid, here: Matt Ryan is not a scrambling quarterback. He is not a fearsome bulldozer of a man like Cam Newton, who is capable of taking two or three guys into the end zone with him. He is not an equally historically great runner like Michael Vick, who will always rank as one of the most enjoyable quarterbacks in NFL history to watch, and whose speed in the open field was utterly absurd for a QB. He’s not even Andrew Luck, who is a good enough athlete to consistently pick up solid yardage when he’s flushed out of the pocket.

Matt Ryan is a tall, goofy dude who has crafted an almost painfully plain public persona, though there’s plenty of evidence that he’s not so buttoned-up in his life outside football. He’s obviously a good athlete and a heady quarterback, but he doesn’t necessarily look like the former, and that’s why it’s always kind of a small thrill to see him take off running.

I mention this as an amusement, but obviously Ryan’s season is no mere amusement. He’s 106 yards off his career high, he’s already broken the team’s (and his) personal record of 32 touchdown passes, and he owns virtually every franchise passing record.

I have tried to describe Ryan’s galloping many times over the years, as you’ll see below, but he deserves his due for his ability to consistently pick up yardage. We’ve talked a lot as a fanbase about how Ryan appears to be more comfortable on the move, and this season he’s set up to get close to his career high in running yardage (he’s at 115, and he had 145 in 2014), and he’s picked up a career high with 12 first downs. It’s a footnote when his passing has been so good, but it’s a fun footnote.

We’ll see if Ryan can pick up 30-plus yards in one game—I have my doubts—but this will go down as the best season of his career, more than likely, and it has been a genuine pleasure to watch him awkwardly but effectively take of running all 317 times he’s done so in his career. In a year where we can’t say enough about how amazing this offense has been, it’s worth remembering that Ryan has made it all go. I’m hoping the team can keep Kyle Shanahan around and keep this tremendous group all together, but now more than ever, I have confidence things will go with Ryan at the helm, and a hope that this will not be an aberration of a season.

Here’s to Matt Ryan, and may always have Julio Jones to throw to as he gets older, so he has to take off running less frequently.