You don’t have to look under too many rocks to find an analyst willing to bet on Matt Ryan enjoying a bounceback season. I suspect part of that is because many recognize that Ryan was more unlucky than unskilled in 2017, but even so, it’s nice to see. It’s also likely we’re just seeing the beginning of this, given that the Falcons are one of the NFC’s genuine contenders and everyone loves a good comeback story.
Take NFL Network’s Steve Wyche, who was once the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Falcons beat reporter, is betting heavily on Ryan living up to that big money deal he just signed.
“I’m going with Matt Ryan,” Wyche said. “I’m going with the guy who’s making the most cheddar, because I look at the fact that in Year 1 when he had Kyle Shanahan his numbers were very pedestrian: 21 touchdowns, 16 interceptions – ‘What’s wrong with Matt Ryan?’ Comes back the next year and wins the MVP. Year 1 with Steve Sarkisian last year: 20 touchdowns, 12 picks – ‘What’s wrong with Matt Ryan?’ I think he’s coming back. I think they’re going to take care of Julio, he’s going to be fired up. We know all of the weapons but Mike, defensively, the Falcons are loaded. And if they can increase their takeaways, Matt Ryan is going to have plenty more short fields to operate on.”
All of this is true. Unlike Shanahan’s first year, where Ryan genuinely looked confused and feeble throwing the ball at times, he was basically fine-to-great in 2017 without the numbers to back it up. The defense, while improved in 2017, certainly didn’t manage a lot of turnovers, and any improvement in that regard should absolutely set Ryan up for more success.
I’m not expecting a second MVP award or anything, but there’s absolutely reason to expect that Ryan will have one of his better seasons with the weapons on hand. He just needs better play calling from Steve Sarkisian, better luck, and a fewer drops and we’re off to the races.
Expect Ryan to continue to be a popular bounceback candidate among the chattering classes as the summer wears on, and expect him to live up to the hype.