It’s easy to look at Matt Ryan’s numbers this season and conclude he’s not playing well.
Last year, Ryan threw for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, completing 69.9 percent of his passes and posting a 117.1 passer rating en route to his first MVP award.
With two games remaining this season, Ryan’s numbers are down across the board: 3,490 yards, 18 touchdowns, and a 65.2 completion percentage to go along with a 92.0 passer rating. The 11 interceptions he’s thrown is the only number that has gone up.
Despite the drop in statistics, Pro Football Focus rates Ryan as the second-best quarterback in the league.
Advanced stats on Matt Ryan, the highest graded QB in the NFC: pic.twitter.com/txs4slhsAZ— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Atlanta) December 21, 2017
Of note here is the one percent of Ryan’s throws being turnover worthy, which PFF ranks third.
How is Ryan ranked third in the league in turnover-worthy throws if he has thrown 11 interceptions on the season? It’s because seven of those picks have been the fault of his receivers.
Let’s take a look.
Week 3: Detroit Lions - three interceptions (one at fault)
The first interception in this game was on Ryan. It was a play-action pass, and Ryan thought he had Julio Jones on a post route. Unfortunately, he never saw free safety Glover Quin, who read the play all the way, intercepting the pass and returning it for a 25-yard touchdown.
The second interception was deflected off Tevin Coleman’s hands. He came out of the backfield and when Ryan delivered the throw, Coleman didn’t squeeze the ball and Darius Slay came up with the pick.
The third interception was Mohamed Sanu’s fault. It was another deflection on what should’ve been a routine catch. Instead, Slay came away with his second pick of the game.
Week 4: Buffalo Bills - two interceptions (one at fault)
Ryan badly underthrew a deep pass to Taylor Gabriel, giving Micah Hyde a rather easy interception. Gabriel was able to get behind the Buffalo secondary, but Ryan didn’t put enough on the throw.
Blame Nick Williams for the second interception. The receiver had both hands on the football, but it popped out right into the hands for Hyde for his second turnover.
Week 6: Miami Dolphins - one interception (not at fault)
On the drive to try to win (or tie) the game, Ryan looked to second-year tight end Austin Hooper. It should’ve been a pretty easy completion, but the ball went through Hooper’s hands and Reshad Jones came away with the game-sealing interception.
Week 9: Carolina Panthers - one interception (not at fault)
Hooper was at fault here again. He tripped, giving Panthers safety Mike Adams a gift pick. If Hooper had flattened his route and cut in front of Adams, the interception would’ve never happened.
Week 10: Dallas Cowboys - one interception (not at fault)
It’s back to Sanu for this pick. As was the case in Detroit, the ball bounced right off his hands and Cowboys rookie safety Xavier Woods came away with the first interception of his career.
Week 14: New Orleans Saints - three interceptions (two at fault)
Ryan was first picked off by Marcus Lattimore with 14 seconds left in the first half. The rookie cornerback was tangled up with Jones, and Ryan made a poor decision by throwing the ball inside where only Lattimore had a chance at it.
Ryan’s second interception came just one throw later to start the second half, but it wasn’t his fault. Austin Hooper again failed to catch a ball that hit him right in the hands, and Chris Banjo took the easy interception.
The third interception was Ryan trying to give Jones a chance at a ball in the end zone. Unfortunately, Ryan threw the ball too low and Marcus Williams picked the pass off.
Whatever the record is for having the most tipped interceptions, Ryan probably owns it.
The numbers don’t reflect it, but Ryan is, without a doubt, having a good year — even with a first-year playcaller at the helm.