Last offseason, I wrote a series of Throwback Thursday articles looking back at some of the most memorable moments in Atlanta Falcons history. That series culminated with an article looking back at the time newly minted general manager Thomas Dimitroff drafted Matt Ryan with the third overall pick. Here’s how that specific article concluded:
As you may or may not have noticed, there wasn’t a single one of these articles which was dedicated to any moment in the Matt Ryan era; that was by design. In this upcoming offseason, I hope to write a series of “Matty Ice Moments” articles, which look back on nothing but moments in the Matt Ryan era.
Well, that time has come — welcome to the “Matty Ice Moments” series. This will be a series of articles dedicated to looking back on Matt Ryan-centric moments, in an attempt to help distract us from the dead period a little bit.
And if you don’t like Matt Ryan and think that we’re focusing on him too much this offseason, then that’s just too bad, I guess.
You can find last week’s article in this series, looking back on Ryan and the Falcons’ 8-0 start in 2012, here.
Matt Ryan breaks franchise records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a single season, in 2012
Matt Ryan’s evolution into an elite quarterback was completed in 2012; and with new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter turning Atlanta’s offense into a predominant aerial attack in 2012, that evolution came with the opportunity to put up some gaudy statistics.
The 2012 rendition of the Falcons was the first one in Ryan’s career which didn’t have Michael Turner and the run game as its prevailing entity — Turner recorded at least 300 carries in three of the first four years of Ryan’s career. 2009 was the only year in which he fell short, and that was only because he dealt with a number of nagging injuries which sidelined him for most of the second half of the season.
Despite being treated as little more than a game-manager in Mike Mularky’s offense, Ryan still managed to record 4,177 passing yards in the 2011 season, breaking the single-season franchise record held by Jeff George.
Koetter brought in a four verticals offense which replaced Mularky’s old-school ground-and-pound approach.
The 2012 campaign was the most successful season for the Atlanta Falcons since the Super Bowl run of 1998. It would also be the most dominant season by a Falcons QB in franchise history (up to that point).
Behind an inspired Matt Ryan in his fifth season, the Falcons staked their claim for the 1-seed in the NFC with a 13-3 regular season record — their second such record in three seasons.
Ryan broke his own franchise record for passing yards in a single season with 4,719, and he broke Steve Bartkowski’s franchise record for passing touchdowns in a single season with 32 (Bartkowski recorded 31 in 1980 and 30 in 1981). Ryan’s passer rating of 99.1 was also good for second best figure in single-season franchise history behind Chris Chandler’s 100.9 mark in 1998.
Ryan finished fifth in the NFL in passing yardage, passing touchdowns, and passer rating in 2012, earning his second career trip to the Pro Bowl.
The Boston College alum would record a game of three or more passing touchdowns seven times in 2012, and he would record a game with 300+ passing yards another seven times. Both would set single-season franchise records.
Matt Ryan still owns the single-season franchise records for passing yards and passing touchdowns, but neither of those current marks are from 2012 anymore. He would also go on to break that single-season franchise record for passer rating that just eluded him in 2012.
Ryan appears atop the leaderboard multiple times before anybody else’s name pops up when it comes to all three of those single-season records in Falcons history.
Ryan also positioned himself into second place on Atlanta’s all time passing yardage list after the completion of the 2012 season (he was actually second following the 2011 season if we’re gonna get technical), with 18,957 yards. There was still work to be done to hunt down Steve Bartkowski, who was at the top of said list with 23,470 passing yards.
Ryan was also second on Atlanta’s all time passing touchdowns list at this point in his career, with 127 TD passes. Bartkowski was once again the man to chase down with 154 passing touchdowns.
Matt Ryan breaking franchise records and attaining a level of success never before seen by a Falcons QB will be a common theme throughout the rest of this series of articles.