At the risk of beating a dead horse, we have genuinely never seen Matt Ryan get so unlucky in his entire career as he has in 2017. It was never very likely that Ryan would get a second straight league MVP, not with a change at offensive coordinator and a tougher schedule, but he still figured to have an excellent year. This is one of the best supporting casts he’s ever had, after all.
Instead, Ryan is on pace to post the second-lowest touchdown total of his career, the fourth-fewest yards, and the third-or-fourth most interceptions. Despite regularly grading out as one of Pro Football Focus’s best quarterbacks, and despite regularly getting his team close to the end zone, he has had a year that will likely be looked back upon as one of his worst.
Some of that is on Ryan, who was making some awful throws early in the year, has thrown a small handful of backbreaking interceptions, and has struggled to get rid of the ball before taking some drive-killing sacks. No one is going to argue with a straight face that he’s having one of his best seasons ever, but it’s also very evident that sheer dumb luck has played a significant role in his statistical decline.
Matt Ryan leads the league with 8 'unlucky interceptions'— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Atlanta) December 29, 2017
5 dropped passes
2 pass breakups
1 receiver errorhttps://t.co/iLW6UcY3QP
Ryan has thrown eight interceptions that were essentially out of his control. The throws might have been a tick too hard or too high, sure, but ultimately they bounced off another player or were somehow impacted before the defender made a play. If you were to erase all those throws, Ryan would probably have a couple more interceptions to his name than just the four he’s thrown legitimately, but probably not by much. Tack on even a couple of touchdowns that probably would have been made without those picks and other assorted and sundry drops, and Ryan could have something like a 21/6 TD/INT ratio. That’s not MVP-caliber, but it is probably pretty reflective of the season he should be having.
This context is important to remember because this season will almost assuredly be held against Ryan down the line, in the same way that his legitimately mediocre 2015 was. The truth is that Ryan’s poor luck this year probably won’t be repeated next year, which gives me hope that 2018 will be a significant bounceback year statistically for him, and perhaps for the entire offense.