Wednesday, December 1, 2010

16 comments Stop Gushing Over Matt Ryan

Yeah, I said it.

I cannot question the Falcons' 9-2 record. Ultimately a win is a win. And sure, Matt Ryan drove the Falcons down the field for the game winning field goal against one of the top teams in the NFC (Green Bay). But let's take a look at that drive for a second. Here is the official play-by-play of that final drive.

1-10-GB 49
(:49) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short right to 84-R.White ran ob at GB 40 for 9 yards (55-D.Bishop)

2-1-GB 40
(:43) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short left to 12-M.Jenkins to GB 36 for 4 yards (37-S.Shields).

1-10-GB 36
(:29) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short left to 83-H.Douglas ran ob at GB 32 for 4 yards (21-C.Woodson).

2-6-GB 32
(:22) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass short left to 83-H.Douglas pushed ob at GB 29 for 3 yards (26-C.Peprah).

Timeout #2 by GB at 00:18

3-3-GB 29 (:18) (Shotgun) 2-M.Ryan pass incomplete short right to 84-R.White.

Timeout #3 by GB at 00:13.

4-3-GB 29
(:13) 3-M.Bryant 47 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-82-J.Zelenka, Holder-9-M.Koenen.

"Matty Ice," known for his ability in clutch games, began the drive on the Green Bay 49 yard line. That's right, inside Green Bay territory. Not at his own 20 with the defense forcing throws to the middle to eat up clock. Even Derek Anderson could have ended this game with a win.

While we can commend Ryan for completing four straight passes during the drive, these throws advanced the team a mere 20 yards. In all honesty, two draws to Michael Turner, each followed by a spike, may have picked up the same yardage. A great quarterback does not leave a gift-wrapped game up to chance. If Tom Brady or Peyton Manning steps on the field in a similar situation, Matt Bryant is lining up for a 30-yard chip shot as opposed to a 47-yard prayer. The pre and post-expression of the Falcons players said it all. Because 47 yards is far from a guarantee, the Falcons quietly awaited their fate on the sideline and could not have looked more tense. Interlocked arms, players looking the other way and various forms of voodoo were employed to ensure the kick went through the uprights. In short, their faces screamed "it would be awesome if he made this." If the kick was instead from 30 yards, I can almost guarantee that the look of trepidation that characterized the Falcons' sideline would have been replaced by a calmer, "there's no way we're blowing this" kind of face.

The post-kick reaction would have been altered as well. After the Falcons won the game, players jumped for joy. Matt Bryant and the holder shared a lovely embrace, followed by an offensive lineman cramming them into a jumbo hug. Even Roddy White ran out onto the field to give Bryant a pat on the ass (the game wasn't over so the team could not run out on the field). Even Matt Ryan raised his arms in delight to signal to the entire crowd that the field goal was good, as if they had no idea. From 30 yards, those raised arms turn into a simple fist pump, and his facial expression goes from "Yes, we won!" to "good thing we didn't blow it."

Okay, so the last two paragraphs might be way off base. But the point I'm making (at least I think) is not: Matt Ryan's final drive was unimpressive, at best.

Looking back at the entire game, Matt Ryan did not play particularly well. Despite his impressive 24/28 completion percentage, it resulted in only 197 yards. That's 8 yards per completion and, if you happened to watch, you would have noticed that he checked it down throughout the entire game. A high completion percentage means nothing when it results in 14 points (I refuse to give him credit for the last 3). Despite the overwhelming offensive talent at his disposal (Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White), he had one completion of over 20 yards. He could not even capitalize when the luck of the game swung his way. Had Aaron Rodgers not inexplicably fumbled on the Falcons 1 during a QB sneak, the entire complexion of the game would have changed.

You might argue that this game was only one game, and Matt Ryan was mediocre, not terrible. I will concede that point. But the constant gushing over him, both in this game and the entire season, is unfounded and ludicrous. You may point to his 19 TDs and only 5 INTs as evidence of his success, but keep in mind that he's 25th in the league in yards per pass. In reality, this means that he's simply checking down the ball to backs and receivers running short routes. Even his touchdown passes are suspect. Here is the yardage of each of his passing touchdowns this season:

1, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 8, 11, 12, 12 13, 13, 19 (short pass to Jason Snelling which he took all the way) 22, 28 (short to Snelling, again), 33, 43, 45.

Take away both the wide-open play action TDs inside the 5 that are unrepresentative of a QB's skill and the Jason Snelling screen TDs and we're looking at a 10-5 TD/INT Ratio. Not overly impressive.

You may also say that he has been clutch earlier in the season. Looking at the San Francisco game, I cannot argue against that. The Baltimore game, however, was a different story. I'll give him credit for the beginning of the drive when he brought his team to the 50. But when looking at the drive again, it's clear that the Baltimore defense was pressed to the line of scrimmage (starting at the 50) unwilling to yield any yardage since field goal range was approaching. Even the touchdown pass, despite the gushing praise he received from announcers, was only a result of the cornerback inexplicably falling to the ground. What about the Saints game, you ask? Of the 14 plays on the game-winning drive 11 of them were runs. He only completed one 8 yard pass to Jason Snelling, which was, as per usual, a check down.

I do not mean to totally destroy the legitimacy of Matt Ryan and his Falcons this season. I simply hope that we can put him in perspective. He's a top 10-12 QB and excellent game manager. But he's nothing more. He is not outstanding. He is not overly clutch. He is a quality NFL quarterback capable of getting the job done. So let's keep it in our pants and accurately assess Matt Ryan.


Jeremy Conlin said...

How dare you insinuate that Derek Anderson could complete four consecutive passes. Even he is furious about this.

Bengoodfella said...

Ouch. Poor Matt Ryan.

This is much like how some people are giving Jimmy Clausen credit for the Panthers even having a shot at a game-winning field goal against the Browns. He threw a short pass (that was for a 2 yard gain to Mike Goodson, who broke the law of gravity and several tackles to literally stumble his way to a large 30+ yard gain. If Goodson doesn't break a tackle and then somehow levitate for a few more yards it is a simple 2 yard gain. Then Clausen threw a great pass (it was to the sidelines and only where the receiver could catch it), but Brandon LaFell dove for the ball and then had the great thinking to roll out of bounds. So he really made the play. Naturally, b/c it is the Panthers John Kasay shanked the field goal and they lost. My (extremely long) point is that all of Clausen's short passes, excessive throwing the ball out of bounds and holding onto the ball for 8 seconds was forgotten and he became a QB w/ potential after this happened.

I like Matt Ryan and I would put him in the Top 10 of NFL quarterbacks. That being said, he had great field position in this situation, so it would have been nice to see the ball moved up a little further. He managed it well, but I think Bryant deserves more credit.

Also, there is no way Derek Anderson completes four straight passes. Another also...Matt Leinart couldn't do as well as Anderson is doing? How come I don't believe this?

Anonymous said...

People said the same crap about Tom Brady in the early 200's

Anonymous said...

2000's rather

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, there is nothing wrong w/ taking what the defense is giving a quarterback. I know people may have said this about Tom Brady and I don't think Dylan was saying at this point Matt Ryan isn't a good quarterback.

I value Ryan more than Dylan does. Mostly, I believe he is saying that analysts were gushing over Ryan's ability to come back and help his team in the game against the Packers when in actuality he didn't do all that much.

Maybe Ryan will turn out to be like Brady, but I think Dylan was saying he isn't quite an elite QB.

Dylan said...

I am definitely not anti Matt Ryan. I just simply do not believe that he is worthy of all the praise that he has received. Sure, he may turn into Tom Brady and I will look like an ass. But as of now, I'm not quite willing to take that leap. It's just frustrating when we build up QBs so much and give them such high expectations that they are not capable of. Is Matt Ryan one of the better QBs? Absolutely. But I just do want us to jump the gun quite yet.

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, so you are saying you don't want to crown his ass yet? I don't know if you will look like an ass because you are just pointing out facts. I see less of what you are saying as a long-term criticism of Matt Ryan and more of an observation.

Of course, you also may be saying he is a quarterback that doesn't take enough chances or hit players down the I can see how if he starts to amass 4,000 yard seasons for a few years in a row you would have been wrong-ish.

Cory said...

Anonymous said it before I could. Looks like a game-winning drive by Adam Vinatieri set up by Tom Brady - a whole bunch of five-yard dump-offs against Prevent coverage.

"I simply hope that we can put him in perspective. He's a top 10-12 QB and excellent game manager. But he's nothing more. He is not outstanding. He is not overly clutch. He is a quality NFL quarterback capable of getting the job done."

You could have easily said this about Tom Brady eight-nine years ago.

Dylan said...

I don't disagree that Matt Ryan has potential. I agree that the media described Brady in this way 8-9 years ago, but how many QBs with this description turn into Tom Brady? Very few. So while I agree it is a possibility, I'm just saying that we cannot crown him quite yet.

Bengoodfella said...

Cory, I don't want to talk about Tom Brady getting good field position and throwing short passes to get in field range. It hurts too much for me.

Yes, I would agree that this could be said about Tom Brady a few years ago. So Dylan may end up looking like an asshole, but he also has a point that not every QB who is "efficient" turns into Tom Brady.

I say if Dylan is wrong he has wear a Matt Ryan jersey, unwashed, for an entire year.

Dylan said...

If everyone else agrees, I think we have a deal

Bengoodfella said...

How long would the deal run for? Meaning how many years does Ryan have to put up numbers like Tom Brady for you to wear the unwashed Ryan jersey for a year?

Dylan said...

Every year he's widely considered to be in the Brady category. So it could be anywhere from 0-15.

Martin said...

Matt Ryan is only Tom Brady at home. On the road he's Joe Flacco.

koleslaw said...

Okay, so the last two paragraphs might be way off base. But the point I'm making (at least I think) is not: Matt Ryan's final drive was unimpressive, at best.

You hit the nail on the head. If this exact same situation happened to a different QB, (P. Manning or Brady, as per your example) it goes from either not being interesting enough to be written about, to being written about negatively (OMG, they only gained enough yards for a 47-yarder.)

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, that's a good point. Though a quarterback being Joe Flacco isn't a bad thing...depending on the quarterback.

Koleslaw, I think that was the point Dylan was trying to make. That some people had gushed over the last drive and it wasn't all the impressive. I am not sure he is trying to say Matt Ryan stinks, though he does try to show some proof Ryan is an average to above avg quarterback. That may cause him to wear a Ryan jersey, unwashed, for an entire year.