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’s first career playoff win, here.
2013 was one of the most disappointing seasons I’ve ever experienced in my fandom of this team, from a sheer expectation to reality standpoint.
The Falcons came one play away from the Super Bowl in 2012. They would have played in the Super Bowl had the refs not missed a Navorro Bowman pass interference on Roddy White in the dying moments of the NFC Championship Game. But at least Falcons fans didn’t collectively pout, sign petitions to play the game over, or try and sue the NFL when things didn’t go our way, like another fanbase has been doing over the past six months.
Going into 2013, and coming off of a 13-3 record and NFC Championship Game appearance, it felt like a Super Bowl or bust season. The team had supposedly addressed the gaping hole in the run game from 2012 with the signing of Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson, and still had a deadly pass-catching triumvirate of Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez.
Unfortunately, things went off the rails rather quickly in 2013. The defense was exposed as a massive liability, and finished fifth-worst in the NFL in yards allowed. The young, revamped, offensive line caved in on itself and almost got Matt Ryan killed over the course of the season as a result. Steven Jackson turned out to be washed up. Julio Jones, who looked on pace for a monster season, broke his foot and was lost for the season in Week 5. Roddy White also suffered through lingering injuries, turning Harry Douglas into the team’s WR1.
General manager Thomas Dimitroff’s decision to cut ties with valued veteran contributors in John Abraham and Todd McClure backfired in the worst way, and the Falcons suffered as a result. The Birds went 4-12 in a year where they were thought to have Super Bowl aspirations going into it.
However, there was a bit of good to emerge from this disaster of a year, as Matt Ryan officially made one of the biggest franchise passing records his own.
We already talked about the single-season franchise records Ryan broke in the 2012 season. That campaign positioned him to claim the all-time franchise passing record in 2013.
Despite having to throw to Harry Douglas as his primary wide receiver for most of the season (he somehow turned Douglas into a 1000-yard pass catcher), and having one of the worst offensive lines in football, Ryan still managed to throw for 4,515 passing yards on a career-high 651 attempts (which were necessary because the team had no run game and played from behind in most games).
That mark was just enough to move Ryan past Steve Bartkowski, and into first place, on the all-time franchise passing yardage list. Ryan finished 2013 with 23,472 career passing yards, just eclipsing Bartkowski’s 23,470 career passing yards. Ryan moved into first place in Week 17, against the Panthers.
Ryan’s 26 touchdowns in 2013 also moved him in position to pass Bartkowski on the all-time franchise passing touchdowns list the next season. Ryan finished 2013 with 153 career passing touchdowns. Bartkowski totaled 154 passing touchdowns in his illustrious Falcons career. Ryan would move past that mark in Week 1 of the 2014 season, against the Saints.
Ryan had also already broken the franchise record for wins by a QB in 2012, totaling 56 wins against second-placed Bartkowski’s 55. In 2013, the Boston College alum added four more wins for an even 60.
Ryan was neck and neck with Bartkowski when it came to franchise passing records at the end of his sixth season in the league. He’s played five more years since then, and has obliterated every single major franchise passing record in the process.
Ryan is currently first on the franchise passing yardage list with 46,720 yards (Bartkowski is second with 23,470), first in all-time passing touchdowns with 295 (Bartkowski is second with 154), first in QB wins with 102 (Bartkowski is second with 55), first in passer rating (among qualified candidates) with a 94.9 mark (Chris Chandler is second with 87.4), first in 4th quarter comebacks with 27 (Bartkowski is second with 18), and first in game-winning drives with 36 (Bartkowski is second with 20).
Ryan has also played the most games among any Falcons QB (174) but he’s not even first on the all-time interceptions list (Bartkowski has 141 in comparison to his 133).
Ryan has accounted for the seven most prolific passing seasons in Falcons history, and eight of the 10 most prolific passing seasons in Falcons history.
I’m going to embed a tweet from myself as a visual of this:
Imagine being a Falcons fan and disrespecting the greatest player in franchise history as often as some of y’all do pic.twitter.com/oQrhqjOKsj— Adnan Ikic (@SayWhichWay) July 12, 2019
Matt Ryan owns every major passing record in team history, and he is the most important player to ever put on a Falcons uniform. In my opinion, he’s also the best player to ever put on a Falcons uniform.