For those of you waiting for Falcon’s rookie quarterback Matt Ryan to flame out, I’ve got news for you. It’s not going to happen. Rookie quarterbacks in the NFL are bound to hit a brick wall one of these days, you say.
Yeah, that’s what I thought going into the Saints, Falcons game Sunday. Two-hundred and forty-eight yards and two touchdowns later, Ryan was the winning quarterback on the field, not league MVP candidate Drew Brees.
A lot of that had to do with a miserable Saints defense, but that shouldn’t and doesn’t take away from anything Ryan did. He was as polished as a shiny new black Lexus driving off the lot.
It’s truly astonishing what Ryan is doing in his rookie season. He’s in the top half of the league in almost every important passing statistic, except one: Interceptions. That’s almost unheard of for a rookie quarterback.
Rookies playing quarterback are almost always dead last in the league in passing stats. Heck, that’s who those spots are reserved for, rookies and third-stringers who are only playing because Tom Brady and Tony Romo got hurt.
Quarterbacking as a rookie in the NFL is so hard that most first-year guys don’t even get a chance to try it. Usually rookie quarterbacks sit out a year before they try their hand.
However, some don't. Sometimes a team is in such desperate need of quarterback that they’ll throw a rookie out there and take their chances. That’s what Atlanta did. That’s what the Colts did with Peyton Manning and what the Cowboys did with Troy Aikman.
Both Manning and Aikman performed admirably as rookies, albeit on miserable teams, but both were clearly light years away from what they would ultimately become.
Ryan’s not like that. He’s good now and on a pretty good football team. As a Saints fan, it’s actually kind of frightening to think that this kid is only going to get better. If he’s this good now, what is he going to look like five years from now when he’s in his prime?
So what do we make of this phenomenon? How can Matt Ryan be immune to the pitfalls of the NFL that have felled so many young quarterbacks?
Maybe it’s his attention to detail. He supposedly as diligent in his preparation as Manning and Brees. You know, the first-to-arrive, last-to-leave type guy.
Maybe it’s the system he played in college. Boston College runs a pro style offense, don’t they? Mixed in now, I’m sure, with a sprinkling of the wildcat formation that seems to be sweeping the football world these days. But as an overall offensive philosophy, they seem to be pretty cut and dry. Perhaps that’s what’s helping Ryan to be so successful.
Anyway you slice it, Ryan has been an absolute phenom so far this season. Nobody expected him to have the Atlanta Falcons, a 4-win team last season, tied for second in the NFC South with a 6-3 record.
He’s so good that he might earn a invite to Hawaii after the season’s done. How crazy would that be? It probably won’t happen though, contrary to what my title says. The NFC has too many great QBs: Warner, Brees, Eli Manning, Daunte Culpepper (wait, what?).
But to even be considered, to even be mentioned as a possible candidate proves how good Ryan has been this season.
So don’t hold your breath, Matt Ryan critics. He’s having one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback in NFL history and he’s showing no signs of stopping now.