I don’t want to lean on the Matt Ryan praise siren too hard here—he’s off to a strong but not necessarily remarkable start to 2017—but there are some historic things going on in the background of this season that we should probably note in the here and now. For example, did you know that Matt Ryan could very well finish this season as a top 15 passer in terms of both yardage and touchdowns? Like, all-time?
It’s true! Here’s where Ryan currently ranks, and following that, the numbers he needs to exceed to make it into the top 15. I’ve chosen top 15 because it is actually attainable in both of these instances for the 2017 season, though neither will be easy to get at his current pace.
Passing yardage: 38,724 (19th all-time), needs to surpass Dan Fouts (43,040)
Passing touchdowns: 242 (24th all-time), needs to surpass Vinny Testaverde (275)
Strikingly, Ryan is only behind seven current quarterbacks in terms of passing touchdowns and six in passing yardage, and none of those guys are younger than he is. There’s no just a chance but a likelihood that when Ryan hangs up those cleats someday, he’ll be statistically among the top ten quarterbacks in NFL history.
Ryan is playing in an era of inflated passing totals, and he owes somewhat of a debt to that, as do Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, etc., and so on. But it’s a testament to Ryan’s durability and talent, as well as the talent of his supporting cast, that he’s in a position to catapult into the pantheon of true greats as soon as this season. May he get there, and may he retire with the slam dunk Hall of Fame numbers (and rings) he deserves.