Matt Ryan lost his favorite receiver over the past decade this spring, and he and this offense got off to a decidedly slow and sputtery start to the season. After two weeks, he was sitting at two touchdowns and three interceptions for a team that had only been intermittently competitive against the Eagles and Buccaneers, and it was clear he and the offense would have to turn things around quickly.
It’s happened in fits and starts, but the longtime Falcons quarterback has shown he’s still got it in spades, and this team has reaped the benefits. Despite Calvin Ridley not being available for a few games, Russell Gage missing time with injury and a shaky ground game, Ryan and this passing game have caught fire since then, as he’s put up 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions in his last six games and piloted the Falcons to a 4-2 record in those contests. The crown jewel of that run was a 23/30, 343 yards, two touchdown effort against the Saints that saw him lead a game-winning drive with a minute on the clock and even featured a rushing touchdown and Saints defender juked and left in the dust.
For all that, Ryan’s earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for Week 9. He absolutely deserves it, as biased as I might be.
That's our quarterback— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 10, 2021
Ryan undoubtedly wanted to show this coaching staff and front office that their faith in him would be rewarded after they elected not to draft a quarterback this spring, and he’s looked as sharp as he has in years of late. The rapport he’s developed with Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson this season and his ability to spread the ball around to the likes of Olamide Zaccheaus and Tajae Sharpe has helped keep this passing game humming even as the defense and rushing attack deliver uneven efforts, and getting everything working at peak power against the team we hate the most makes this past Sunday even sweeter.
My belief that the Falcons will choose to mitigate Ryan’s big cap hit next year by extending him has only grown, given that they can carve out space by doing so and Ryan is showing just how well he can function in this Arthur Smith and Dave Ragone offense, even with so many parts of that offense looking like a work in progress. If Ryan can keep this up when the offensive line has a season under its belt together, when the team has Ridley back and/or has added another compelling option, and when they’re capable of putting a truly balanced attack on the field with a consistently productive ground game, this offense is going to be lethal.
We’ll see what the final nine games bring for Ryan, but I’m confident he’ll continue to play well and the team will remain competitive because of it. Kudos to #2 for the weekly honor, and let’s hope he and the Falcons still have more big games in store.