Falcons quarterback Matthew Thomas Ryan may be the best quarterback to ever play for the Atlanta Falcons. And he may have given the Falcons a whopping 13 seasons of above-average quarterbacking. But that won’t stop the Falcons from phasing him out, one way or another. For Ryan’s biggest fans, the hope is that it’s on his terms and of the ticker tape variety. For those that at least respect Ryan and what’s he done for the Falcons, the hope is that he’s earned the opportunity for a relatively smooth exit. Can the Falcons pull that off? I don’t know, and they don’t necessarily have to, because this is a business and that’s just how it goes.
It’s going to be a sad day when Ryan is no longer the QB1 in Atlanta. But that day will need to come eventually. It may be that it’s a smart and palatable move financially (2022), on the field, or both. But it’ll happen. And while we may understand why it’s happening, we won’t have to be disinterested in the logistics of how it plays out. How quickly does the drafted quarterback compete for the starting job? How long does Ryan last in Atlanta? If Ryan struggles, how much leeway does he get from the coaching staff and the fan base. These are the uncomfortable questions that we’ll be asking if the Falcons use the fourth overall pick on a quarterback.
If you believe that the Falcons would be smart to draft a quarterback with the fourth overall pick, you aren’t alone. It’s not hard to make that case, even if the vast majority of first round quarterbacks will never come close to Ryan’s production. That said, in a league that’s always clamoring for better quarterback play, our position is favorable. And if Ryan does what most quarterbacks do and falls off a cliff at some point, there’s needs to be an exit plan.
Here’s what Ryan himself had to say about the uncomfortable situation he may have to navigate on Wednesday:
There’s a lot of emotion wrapped up in the decision about what comes next. But it’s Terry Fontenot’s front office that will be tasked with making that decision. In some respects, it feels like the end of an era already, but Ryan isn’t going anywhere in 2021. And he’s going to be the guy until he isn’t.
It’s hard to take issue with any of what Ryan says here. He really doesn’t need to be a first round quarterback’s best friend. That may not even be what serves that particular player best. I’d call his tone professional and measured—he’s saying what he’s supposed to say, under the circumstances.
Your thoughts, Falcoholics?