As a part of this series, we’ve taken a look at each of Matt Ryan’s eleven seasons in the NFL. Undoubtedly, the stretch between 2013 and 2015 were particularly rough, and many in the NFL community began to question if Ryan was ever going to bounce back. There were many, in fact, who thought Ryan should be a candidate to be replaced after the 2015 season, despite the fact he underwent another offensive scheme change that year.
For many Falcons (and particularly Matt Ryan) fans, the 2016 season was the payoff for the patience they had shown through some down years. His season finished with a Super Bowl appearance, the NFL MVP award and first-team All-Pro honors. Oh, and it happened to be one of the 10 best all-time seasons by a QB in NFL history.
Let’s talk about his amazing 2016 season.
His best game - NFC Championship vs Green Bay
The 500 yard game against Carolina was a great candidate here, but nothing will top the absolute thrashing of the Packers in the final game of the Georgia Dome. For many fans, this game was not just about getting to the big dance. This game exercised the demon of 2010 when Ryan and company suffered a humiliating loss at home to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Going into this game, many thought that Green Bay was the hottest team in the league. Matt Ryan and the Falcons disproved this quickly.
Ryan would finish the game 27 of 38 for 392 yards with 4 touchdowns, 0 interceptions plus a rushing touchdown (!!!) and a passer rating of 139.4. The final score of 44-21 wasn’t even that close, as the Falcons ripped Green Bay apart scoring 31 unanswered points through 2 quarters and less than a minute into the third.
It was arguably one of the most dominant offensive performances we ever saw out of Ryan. The fact that it was in the NFC Championship and against another elite QB only sweetened the victory that much more.
His worst game - Week 10 at Philadelphia
For some reason, Ryan just can’t play a great game in the state of Pennsylvania. At this point in the season, the Falcons were 6-3 but had not yet had their bye week. The entire team looked slow and lethargic playing against the Eagles. Ryan, in particular, was off-target and seemed to struggle throughout the game.
The soon-to-be MVP finished 18 of 33 for 267 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception and his lowest passer rating of the season at 78.7. In fact, it was the only game of the season where Ryan had a passer rating lower than 87.
Arthur Blank needs to fight the NFL whenever they schedule a game in Pennsylvania for the Falcons.
What we learned
For years, people argued about what Matt Ryan’s “ceiling” really was. The 2016 season showed us. If paired with a great coordinator and given the right weapons, Matt Ryan could be an MVP, All-Pro, Super Bowl quarterback. The speculation about what he could be was over. For even his harshest critics, the 2016 season was impossible to overlook. After three straight years of difficulty, it was nice to see the validation of this great QB. For the fans who stuck with him through all of the ups and downs, this season resonates as one of the greatest ever.