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Reflecting on Matt Ryan’s 11 seasons: 2008

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The fantastic year that started it all.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe that Matt Ryan is about to start his 12th season in the NFL in 2019. It still feels like he was drafted just a few years ago in the wake of the nightmare 2007 season. It’s easy to forget that many writers - including Dave Choate himself - were not fans of Ryan coming out of Boston College. Yet, twelve years later, it’s easy to see that he was not only the best pick of that draft class, he may be one of the best picks in franchise history.

So join us as we look back at each of his first 11 seasons. We’ll take a look at his best and worst game and what we learned about our franchise QB during each season.

His best game

Looking back at his rookie year, it’s hard to pick just one game. This was the season where Falcons fans learned what “Matty Ice” was really capable of. His first game against Detroit was a great one (with his first pass being a touchdown). His 138.4 passer rating against the Raiders was his highest of the season. However, I doubt few fans will argue that his game against Chicago will stand out as one of his best.

Ryan went 22/30 in that game for 301 yards (his first 300 yard game) with 1 touchdown and a 116.1 passer rating. More importantly, though, was his late game heroics. The Bears took a 20-19 lead with just 11 seconds left in the game. Under normal circumstances, that game was in the bag. Matt Ryan, though, was having none of it. With just 6 seconds left and under immediate pressure up the middle, Ryan delivered a sideline pass to hit Michael Jenkins, who went out of bounds with one second left on the clock. Jason Elam nailed the 48 yard field goal to give the Falcons the improbable 22-20 win. The legend of Matty Ice had begun.

His worst game

Given that he was a rookie at the hardest position in all sports, it was inevitable that Ryan would have some stinkers in his first year. While his first game against the Detroit Lions was a very good one, his very next game against Tampa Bay was easily the worst of the year. He completed just 13 of his 33 attempts for 158 yards, no touchdowns and 2 interceptions with a sad 29.6 passer rating. It’s easy to forget that this guy was a rookie once, but this game was a clear indication that he was.

What we learned

What can we say? We learned that this QB had a bright future in the league. We learned that the pressure of following after Michael Vick didn’t keep Ryan from having one of the best rookie QB seasons in NFL history. Most importantly, we learned that the Falcons had made a very good pick, one that is still playing 12 years later.

When you look back on that 2008 season, what are some of the things that stand out to you?