Despite the poor 7-9 record in 2018, Falcons QB Matt Ryan put together yet another statistically strong season. It was a really strong year for QB play, so while Ryan’s rankings in some stats were not top-5, his overall numbers were still incredibly strong. While the offense struggled at times throughout the season, they also showed moments of dominance that many fans hope will transfer over to 2019. Here’s how the franchise QB finished the season.
Ryan finished in the top-5 in several of the conventional stats in 2018. He was third in yards with 4,924 behind only Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes. His 69.4 completion percentage was ranked 4th in the league. His passer rating of 108.1 was also 4th in the league. He was again 4th in touchdowns and 3rd in interception percentage (1.2%). Finally, he was 5th in Adjusted Net Yards per pass Attempt (ANY/A).
When you consider that he was 3rd in attempts (608) for 2018, those stats are even more impressive. Maintaining a low interception percentage and high passer rating while also piling up yards and touchdowns is a difficult feat, yet he ranked in the top 5 in all of those categories.
This year, PFF wasn’t as kind to Ryan. His 84.3 grade is still a highly respectable one, but it only put him as 10th on their list. Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes were 1 and 2 respectively, which makes sense given the year both QBs have had. PFF also doesn’t adjust their rankings against the difficulty of the schedule faced, which is why it’s worthwhile to look at multiple statistics in forming a season-ending picture.
Football Outsiders thought Ryan was a top-5 QB again this year. Their DYAR statistic (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) had him ranked at #4. Their DVOA statistic (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) had him ranked at #4 as well. Patrick Mahomes, Drew Brees and Philip Rivers were the three QBs ahead of him in both rankings. For more on how these stats are gathered and what they mean, you should head over to their site. The value in these stats is that they do adjust based on the opponents you faced, so QBs who played harder defensive units and played well get more credit than those who beat up on lesser opponents.
Finally, ESPN’s Total QBR had Ryan ranked as the 9th best QB on the season. This statistic puts weight not only on passing, but also on the running plays of a QB. It also does not penalize a QB for drops by his receivers and gives him more credit for difficult throws versus easier ones. It’s also not defense adjusted, so in many ways it’s similar to Pro Football Focus in how it assesses players.
In all of these cases, Ryan easily ranks inside the top-10 and is often in the top-5 of many metrics. While statistics can never tell the entire story, they can at least provide a starting point for the conversation. As disappointing as the 2018 season turned out to be, Ryan’s performance was hardly a main issue. So long as he can continue to perform like this in 2019, there’s no reason to believe the Falcons offense can’t be a top performing unit once again, Dirk Koetter or no.