The 2018 season is now in the rearview mirror, so we can look back on it and reminisce. There is plenty of bad to look back on, but this series of articles will focus on some of the good.
The Atlanta Falcons finished the season ranked sixth in the NFL in total offense (6,226 yards) and 10th in scoring offense (25.9 points per game). This grouping of articles will highlight the five players who had the greatest impact and contribution to those very good rankings, counting them down from five to one.
Here is the best offensive player for the Atlanta Falcons from this past season.
1) Matt Ryan
There should be no doubt and no debate as to who is most deserving of being named number one this list — Matt Ryan showcased a masterclass performance in 2018, and he sits at the top of the team’s offensive mountain.
Matt Ryan signed a 5 year/$150 million ($100 million guaranteed) contract extension, which made him the highest paid player in NFL history at the time, early in the offseason.
With the extension came scrutiny and an even more focused microscope on Matt Ryan’s performance, especially following a disappointing 2017 campaign which saw him take a step back in throwing for 4095 passing yards and a TD/INT ratio of 20/12.
Going into year two of Steve Sarkisian’s watch as the team’s offensive coordinator, Ryan was expected to have a bounce-back year, but nobody thought that year would rival his MVP campaign of 2016.
The season, however, did not get off to a good start — in the opener, Ryan threw for only 251 passing yards, no touchdowns and an interception en route to scoring a meager 12 points in a losing effort against the Philadelphia Eagles. Haters were ready to run him out of town, as they often are whenever he has a subpar performance.
Following that defeat, and a subsequent 10 days of scrutiny, Matt Ryan did something he’s done comfortably throughout his career in Atlanta — he bounced back and sent his haters scrambling back to their hiding places.
Over the course of the team’s next eight games, Ryan would throw for 2764 passing yards and a glistening TD/INT ratio of 21/2. Ryan did everything asked of him but still had to watch his team fall to a 4-5 record because of devastating injuries to a number of key starters and contributors.
Ryan actually did everything asked of him all year long, and he deserved better than the 7-9 season the Falcons had. The Boston College alum was third in the NFL with 4924 passing yards, third in the NFL with 35 touchdown passes and fourth in the NFL with a 108.1 passer rating. All of those numbers are the highest he’s put up in any season of his career except for 2016 (when he won the MVP award).
Had the Falcons played better as a collective unit around Ryan, he would have garnered some serious MVP consideration (although he ultimately wouldn’t have won it after the season Patrick Mahomes had).
The Atlanta Falcons have an open championship window at the moment, and it’s currently open because of Matt Ryan’s presence as a top-tier quarterback.
A good draft class, a decent free agent signing or two and better overall team health will have the Falcons back in the playoffs and possibly making a run at the Super Bowl next season, and in the years to come. It’ll be Matt Ryan carrying the team toward that success, as he often has for the past 11 years.