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What Matt Ryan's comfort level means for the Falcons offense

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A great deal, perhaps more than you'd think.

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Ryan declared himself satisfied with Kyle Shanahan and looking forward to his second year in the offensive coordinator's system, something I think most of us instinctively dismissed as the latest example of the notoriously polite quarterback's sense of duty to his team. Even if you don't buy it, it is worth considering what a more comfortable Ryan would actually mean for the offense.

Consider this: In 2015, a year in which Ryan admits he struggled to acclimate to Shanahan's scheme, he threw 16 interceptions (one off his career high) and fumbled four times (which matches his 2008 total, when he was just a rookie). Ryan has never fumbled more than once in the regular season aside from those two years, and while he was undoubtedly facing pressure, the 30 sacks #2 took in 2015 were the lowest he has dealt with in 2012. There's ample evidence that he wasn't comfortable, in other words, though you can choose who is most to blame for that.

If Ryan were to return to his career averages in 2016, then, he'd throw 13 picks, fumble once, and throw 25 touchdowns, which would represent a grand total of six fewer turnovers and four additional scores. When you consider how many close games the Falcons lost in 2016 (and assuming they can hang around in a tougher schedule this year), that could make a huge difference for this Atlanta team. I think it's reasonable to assume that Ryan can fare better than that, too, between everyone being a little more comfortable in the system and the additions of Alex Mack and Mohamed Sanu to the offense.

I can understand skepticism, but the bottom line is that if Ryan really is able to dump some of the mental errors and cringeworthy throws that doomed him and the entire team in 2016, I'm feeling better about the Falcons. So should you.