Matt Ryan's 2015 season was plagued with inconsistent play, which is no secret. To further break it down, I asked the newest writer at Turf Show Times, Derrik Klassen, what he thought of Matt Ryan's season. Klassen extensively charted every throw Ryan made in 2015 and has excellent insight about quarterbacks in general. Throw him a follow @QBKlass on Twitter.
Here's our conversation below:
Charles McDonald: First off, just wanted to say thanks for giving me some of your time to look back and Matt Ryan's 2015 season and what we should expect in 2016.
Derrik Klassen: Of course. I appreciate being the one you asked for this. Ryan's year was weird. I dont think he was bad, but it was his most lackluster season in a while, especially considering that 2012 year not being that long ago. The offense was bad as a whole in 2015 and the QB is always going to catch the flak for that.
Receivers couldn't get open outside of Julio. The OL struggled. The defense was a mess of its own. Everything around him was bad and he couldn't overcome that.
CM: Yup. Quarterback and the offensive coordinator are always in the crosshairs when things fall apart. Devonta Freeman and Julio were bright spots, but the offense was disappointing. Especially in the back half of the season.
Matt Ryan's ability to transcend has really come under the microscope in recent years, this year probably being most prevalent.
When he had a budding Julio Jones, prime Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez kicking around he was seen as a top flight quarterback. Julio's really all he had with the receivers last year and it showed that he's just not "that guy".
What'd you think his best and worst games were?
DK: That's the thing with Ryan. He's as good as what is around him, and if there are good pieces around him he can be so good. Obviously 2015 didn't provide that. His worst game had to be San Francisco. He was bad in the pocket, wasn't making good decisions and simply wasn't accurate. The Giants game near the beginning of the season was rather impressive. I think overall, his back end of 2015 was much worse than how he started.
Which, like you said earlier, was kind of the story of the entire offense.
CM: Ugh. I had blocked that San Francisco game out of my memory. That triple covered throw to Julio Jones was one of the worst throws I've ever seen him make.
DK: That one throw was like a summation of the season, really.
CM: It's weird though. I feel like in a lot of the games he was competent between the 20s, but it all went to hell once they crossed the redzone.
I don't think this will be that difficult to turn around, but that may just be the offseason optimist in me.
DK: I mean, what did Ryan have in the RZ? There's Julio and then a whole lot of nothing. That OL shouldn't be trusted to create push, there wasn't a good 2nd wide receiver threat for the RZ and there sure wasn't a good tight end.
CM: That's a great point. Weirdly, Julio has never been used a redzone threat which is just nonsensical. Good things happen when you just throw up the ball to him, ask Luke Kuechly and the Titans' corners.
Your confidence in passing offense this year really relies on three things:
1. Alex Mack will be a vast upgrade on the interior over Mike Person.
2. Sanu will step in and be a competent number two receiver to Julio.
3. Young guys like Justin Hardy and Austin Hooper will prove to be valuable this year.
I feel pretty good about 1 & 3. Not sold on Sanu remotely.
DK: I think Shanahan's offense is great, Atlanta just didn't have the personnel for it. Old Roddy can't be running those deep crossers. I think Ryan is best fit in a more rhythmic offense, but he can hit all the throws that Shanahan asks of him just fine. I think with minor personnel upgrades and another year in the system bodes well for 2016.
CM: Agree. One interception I remember specifically was on a Roddy crosser against Washington. Julio did his part by blowing the top off the defense and opening up the middle of the field, but Roddy just couldn't gain any separation. Sanu should be able to make those plays.
CM: Any stats that you charted stand out to you from Ryan's season?
DK: He had an Explosive Play Rate of just 6.89% (42/610). I've yet to chart other full seasons for NFL QBs, so it's tough to compare it to anything, but it feels shockingly low. I also thought rolling him out 40 times wasn't a good fit for his skill set.
CM: How do you categorize an Explosive Play?
DK: Ah, meant to add that. Any pass that gains 25+ yards or puts points on the board is an Explosive Play.
CM: Sheesh, that's horrendous. Definitely sounds accurate though. Passing game was just not there at all this year.
Any final thoughts on Ryan or the Falcons offense as a whole before we wrap this up?
DK: I think it's far to assume we'll see him look a bit former like his former self in 2016. I'm not saying a full rebound is in place, but he'll gain some ground. I've always thought Ryan was good and last year was weird to see. Ryan isn't an elite quarterback, but he's plenty good enough to be a top 12 passer in the league. He's still a fine quarterback, regardless of 2015.
CM: It'll be interesting to see how Ryan stacks up against the quarterbacks in the NFC South this year. We know what Cam is, Brees is still getting it done, and Jameis is just special. That division could be tough this year.
DK: Ryan is probably the worst of that group. That's no indictment of him, but being pinned as the "worst" quarterback in the division doesn't help his reputation.
CM: Agree. Thanks for coming over to The Falcoholic to share your thoughts on our beloved quarterback.
DK: Anytime. Thanks again for having me.