We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
We’ll get things started with the projected starters. The offense always begins with the QB, so we’ll kick things off with a closer look at Matt Ryan. Entering his age 35 season, can the franchise’s greatest QB elevate the questionable Falcons’ roster to competitiveness in 2020?
QB Matt Ryan
Contract: $18.96M cap hit in 2020, under contract through 2023 ($28.6M APY)
Career Production: 189 games played, 189 games started | 4470/6817, 51,186 passing yards, 65.4% completion percentage, 7.5 YPA, 6.76 ANY/A, 321 TD, 147 INT, 94.6 passer rating
2019 Production: 15 games played, 15 games started | 408/616, 4466 passing yards, 66.2% completion percentage, 7.3 YPA, 6.08 ANY/A, 26 TD, 14 INT, 92.1 passer rating
Previous Teams: Drafted 1st round (#3 overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2008-present)
The longest-tenured player on Atlanta’s roster and a home-run draft selection at the top of the 2008 class, Matt Ryan has brought stability and strong QB play to the Falcons for 12 straight seasons. He hit the ground running almost immediately, shepherding a dilapidated squad coming off an embarrassing 2007 season to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth in 2008. Ryan was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2008 for his efforts.
Over the next four years, Ryan would lead the Falcons to a winning record each season, only missing the playoffs in 2009 after he missed two games with injury. Ryan’s role has evolved over the years, from a game manager of a run-heavy offense early, to a high-volume passer from 2011-2014, to a high-efficiency play-action passer from 2015-2017. His career reached a high point in 2016 under Kyle Shanahan, as Ryan captained one of the greatest offenses the NFL has ever seen en route to a Super Bowl berth. He earned MVP and All-Pro honors for his efforts that season, has also been named to the Pro four times in his 12 year career, and has been incredibly durable despite having several awful offensive lines.
Ryan is clearly the greatest QB to ever play for the Falcons, and he’s approaching the top of the NFL All-Time leaderboard as well. While Ryan is beginning to get up there in age—he’ll be 35 this season—he’s still got several years left to try and bring a Super Bowl home to Atlanta. I firmly believe Ryan is up to the task—my questions center around the coaching staff and the rest of the roster being good enough to get him there.
On that note, Ryan had a solid 2019 season despite being sacked a career-high 48 times behind a porous offensive line. The Falcons defense was among the worst in the league, particularly early, forcing Ryan to play from behind most of the year. As you’d expect in that situation, Ryan approached his career high in passing attempts—and would likely have broken his previous record had he not missed a game. He’s still playing at a high level and we should expect that play to continue for the foreseeable future.
Projection: Expect a strong year from Ryan in 2020, with a hopefully improved offensive line and running game in the second year of Dirk Koetter’s return. Ryan has excellent weapons and a porous defense, which should lead to plenty of opportunities to “air it out”. I’d expect a final stat line for Ryan to look like this: 4,700 yards, 30 TD, 12 INT, 8.5 YPA.