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Falcons over/under: How many yards will Matt Ryan throw for?

Will a renewed emphasis on the running game push his numbers down?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent over the past decade, it’s Matt Ryan eclipsing 4000 passing yards in a season. In fact, Ryan’s streak started in 2011 (4177) and has lasted 9 seasons and counting, even with the missed game in 2019. While we’re confident he’ll go over 4000 again, just how high will it go with a “renewed” emphasis on the running game? Let’s set the over/under.

The baseline

Over his career, Ryan has averaged right at 271 yards per game (189 games, 51,186 yards). Projecting that out against a 16 game season gets you to 4,333 yards. That number is skewed down by the first few years of his career in Atlanta where the offense was heavily run-focused with Michael Turner in town. Since 2011, he’s averaged about 4600 yards per game. Since 2016, his yardage totals have been 4944, 4095, 4924 and 4466 - for an average of 4680. Based on this, we’re going to set the baseline at 4650 - 291 yards per game.

The case for the over

Simply put, Ryan has gone over the number numerous times in his career. He beat that number in 2012 (his first year playing under Dirk Koetter), 2014, 2016, 2018 and would have likely eclipsed it in 2019 were it not for his injury. While Dan Quinn and Dirk Koetter have promised a renewed emphasis on the running game with Todd Gurley in town, this seems highly unlikely as Dirk has never been able to run an offense with a good running game. You can expect the offense to be pass heavy, especially with receivers like Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and now Hayden Hurst. In fact, 4650 yards seems like an easy target under Koetter.

The case for the under

While Ryan is certainly capable of going over that total, he’s also fallen short of it plenty of times in his career including 2017 and last year (injury not withstanding). The running game should get a boost from Todd Gurley, who is an upgrade over any player we had in that position last year. If you buy into the idea that the defense should be better, it could mean paying from behind a lot less, which will actually allow the offense to run the ball more.

Your thoughts?

Ryan’s yardage totals have fluctuated more the past few years, but there’s no doubt he’s been at the helm of a pass heavy offense since Shanahan left town. Do you think that means another big yardage season or will Koetter finally figure out how to run the ball successfully?


Over/under: 2020 Ryan yardage

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    He’s going over 4650
    (237 votes)
  • 23%
    Give me the under
    (71 votes)
308 votes total Vote Now