As the Falcons begin their offseason activities, it’s time for us to ponder what the 2019 offense may look like. It’s obviously way too early to make any firm predictions, but what the hell — we’ll take a stab anyway.
Today, we start with the man at the center of it all: QB Matt Ryan. With Dirk Koetter and Mike Mularkey back on the sidelines, how will the franchise quarterback fare in 2019? Let’s take a look at how things could play out.
Completion Percentage and Yards
Over his career, Ryan has averaged a completion percentage over 65%. Last year, he put up one of his best seasons ever, completing 69.4% of his passes which was only surpassed by the 69.9% he completed in his 2016 MVP season. Interestingly, his third best season was the 2012 season where he completed 68.6% of his passes. That also happened to be his first season with Dirk Koetter as OC. Given his recent success and having Dirk Koetter back on the sidelines, I think Ryan is going to be in the ballpark of his best seasons.
As for yards, Ryan now has eight straight seasons with 4,000-plus yards passing per season. Again, if we look at 2018, 2016 and 2012, we find that those are some of his best seasons from a yardage standpoint. He hit 4,924 in 2018, 4,944 in 2016 and 4,719 in 2012. Given the emphasis on giving him a clean pocket, and the immense amount of talent around him, there’s little reason to believe Ryan can’t put up similar numbers again in 2019. That said, the emphasis on revitalizing the running game could put a small dent in those numbers, but I doubt it will be a dramatic hit.
My prediction: 68.9% completion rate with 4,850 yards passing.
Touchdowns and Interceptions
Once we look at the touchdown numbers, we see the same pattern as above. The 2018, 2016 and 2012 seasons were the three best for Ryan. Last year, he put up 35 TDs with 38 in his 2016 MVP season and 32 in the 2012 year. He did see a dramatic drop-off in 2017 with just 20, but I’m willing to write that off as the “Sark effect.” If there’s one thing that could cause this number to drop, it’s going to be the emphasis on a physical running game. We may see more TD drives end with physical runs into the end zone, which could knock this total down from what we saw in 2016 and 2018.
Interceptions is an interesting story. Ryan has gotten progressively better at protecting the ball, throwing only seven INTs in 2018 and 2016. While he had 12 in 2017, that was also the freakishly anomalous year where he had a minimum of six INTs that were clearly not his fault. When you factor that in, Ryan’s last three seasons have been in the single digits for QB-responsible INTs. I don’t see this changing at all.
My prediction: 30 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
All of the above adds to a final stat line that looks like this:
68.9% completion percentage for 4,850 yards with 30 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
That would put his 2019 in the top three or four of his overall seasons. Given his continuous improvement as a QB and getting an OC back that he’s familiar with, these numbers seem reasonable. In fact, it’s not unreasonable to think some of them could be even better than the prediction above.
What are your predictions for Matt Ryan’s 2019 season?