With another playoff collapse in the books for Atlanta, it seems more and more obvious that Matt Ryan's career, thus far, could have easily mirrored a flameout that Who Dat Nation is very familiar with.
The venerable Aaron "Backwards Pass" Brooks.
It's true. Now before I get into a true bashing of Mr. "Clutch," I would like to give him his due on one thing: He is very good at running the two-minute drill...in the regular season.
In the postseason, though, that is a different story. (His one miraculous win in the playoffs does not mask the stink of the other four abominations.) Because in the "second season," he has as many wins as Mr. Brooks in that category, despite playing in three more games.
Wow. If that doesn't scream "clutch," I don't know what will.
Oh that's right, I know what helps in that "clutch" factor. How about having a Top 15 defense every year you play and being surrounded with superior talent? You think that helps?
What's really sad, though, is that Brooks and Ryan have played pretty much the same amount of seasons, but Ryan, "Mr. Clutch," only has five more game-winning drives than the former boneheaded Saints quarterback. Five might seem like a lot, but that is only one more per year that the Falcons' first-round signal-caller has.
I haven't even gotten to the fact that, if anyone actually watched his games closely, he is aided by an above-average, sometimes ball-hawking defense and far better players around him than Brooks did.
Still want to call him clutch?
In Ryan's five seasons, the Falcons have had defenses ranked 11th, 14th, 5th, 18th and 5th. In Brooks' five seasons as a starter, the Saints finished 27th, 26th, 14th, 28th and 28th.
You don't think having a pretty good defense had any effect on Ryan's ability to have game-winning drives at the end? Those defenses kept the offense in the game to allow the Boston College alum to make those game-winning drives.
Brooks had to scratch and claw to get back into games, and that's only if he was passing the ball forward.
Finally, Jim Haslett's partner in crime had to deal with journeyman, mostly whenever Ricky Williams left or Deuce McAllister was injured, which was often. Yes, he had Joe Horn, but outside of him, there wasn't much talent around him, yet he racked up 123 touchdowns in his time in New Orleans.
Jerome Pathon, Willie Jackson and others are a far cry from the group that Ryan had to work with: Tony Gonzales, Julio Jones, Michael Turner and Roddy White (when he wasn't trying to spell).
Having a couple first-round receivers and a Hall of Fame tight end might help out just a smidgen. What do you guys say?
So, as bad as Brooks was, his career path could have been a precursor to the ride that Ryan is on had Atlanta not stepped in and surrounded their guy with talent.
Don't get blinded by the "stats" that suggest the Falcons have themselves a clutch quarterback because when you dig a little deeper, the dirt always seems to "rise up" to the occasion.