Breaking Down Matt Ryan's Form at the NFL's Midseason Mark

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IIOctober 24, 2012

Breaking Down Matt Ryan's Form at the NFL's Midseason Mark

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    Matt Ryan is an MVP candidate right now. He has led the Atlanta Falcons to a 6-0 record. Breaking down his talents will be a clinic on what makes him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL today.

    As a guide to use when evaluating quarterbacks, Bleacher Report senior NFL draft lead writer Matt Miller points to 10 qualities to focus on his Scout's Guide to Grading Quarterbacks

    Accuracy Short, Accuracy Outside the Pocket, Accuracy Deep, Arm Strength, Clutch, Decision Making, Mechanics, Mobility, Pocket Presence, and Health

    When breaking down Ryan, I took all 10 factors into account and will break down his game step-by-step. Follow along as we show how the Falcons quarterback is a top quarterback in all aspects of his game. 

Accuracy Short

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    This is when the under 15-yard accuracy matters. At 0:16, Ryan just lets one go to a spot that only Julio Jones can go up and get it. He does this repeatedly throughout the year, but this pass alone shows just how talented Ryan is at putting a ball in a single spot. 

    At 0:45 in the same video above, Ryan puts the ball on Jones again. This time, he puts it in a spot that allows Jones to run after the catch and make a play towards the end zone. At 0:54, he hits Harry Douglas with a huge cushion around him for an easy out route that Douglas gained another 10 yards after the catch.

    Ryan's always had this as his biggest strength. While he may not have the strongest arm in the league, he is able to put the ball wherever he wants and can make sure his receivers can get yards after the catch. 

Accuracy Outside the Pocket

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    One of the biggest strengths in Ryan's game is his ability to roll to either side and deliver a strike. It comes in handy when he is under pressure and needs to find someone quickly to avoid either the sack or the throw away. 

    He's one of the best in the business at this and routinely finds ways to hit Tony Gonzalez over the middle of the pocket breaks down. Or he hits Roddy White on the rollout play-action 15 yards down the field on a third down. His ability to do this extends drives and makes the Falcons offense dangerous.

Accuracy Deep and Arm Strength

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    Normally, these two categories are separated. However, this one play shows everything that anyone would need to know about Matt Ryan's arm strength and accuracy deep. He throws the ball 63 yards in distance and 50 feet in the air to a spot where only Roddy White can catch it.

    This play is the epitome of how a receiver and quarterback can get on the same page to burn a defense. However, it also shows just how talented the quarterback is when forced to throw deep. While he isn't the best in the league in this aspect, he is definitely in the top five.


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    Matt Ryan is the definition of clutch in the regular season. When the tough gets going, he makes enough throws to not only keep the Falcons in contention, but to win the game outright. This year, he has already led the team back to victories when either down or tied up.

    He did it against the Panthers with 0:59 left on the clock and no timeouts, leading the team from its own 1-yard line for the final score. And he did it again against the Raiders with 0:40 seconds left on the clock and two timeouts.


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    When there are three options as good as Julio Jones, Roddy White and the immortal Tony Gonzalez on your team, decision-making is never an issue. It's a "pick your poison" style offense, and teams have been slowly choosing one of the older targets.

    However, what makes the offense work is Ryan's impeccable decision-making. On every play, he goes through his first three reads and see's who he has the best throw with. He's quick on the take and makes his throws perfectly after the breaks. Without his decision-making, there's no way the Falcons are 6-0 right now.


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    Mechanics can be broken down into three main categories: footwork, body posture and the fluid motion that is used during the throw. Matt Ryan's mechanics are almost as good as Peyton Manning's and could be used as coaching film on what to do.

    When it comes to his footwork, the biggest asset is how Ryan can keep his body and shoulders level while still getting back quickly to a spot in the pocket. His body posture is upright, and he stands tall as he drops back so that he can scan the field.

    In watching his throwing motion, it's fluid and looks much like a major league pitcher's. He's got a consistent arm slot when he throws and he uses a standard motion in almost every throw to make sure he has a constant velocity. Mechanics are definitely something he rates with the elite among NFL quarterbacks.

Mobility and Pocket Presence

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    This is easily the weakest part of Matt Ryan's game. The sad thing for opposing defenses is that he's pretty good at this too and is only getting better here. After never using his mobility much in previous years, he's worked this offseason on improving it and the results have shown.

    He's been able to dip and duck defenders when pressured for positive gains on the ground and through the air. On his 79 dropbacks that he has been under pressure, he is 33-for-60 (55.0 percent) for 347 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. (h/t ProFootballFocus Premium Stats)

    He also has 15 runs for 67 yards and a touchdown this year. So while this is still the weakest part of his game, he still has better mobility than counterparts like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.


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    This one is pretty easy to state. Matt Ryan has been a warrior and an Ironman. He's been hit a total of 31 times this season over the first six games. However, the only three plays he has missed all season have been because Luke McCown went into the San Diego game in garbage time for three handoffs.

    There's no issue when it comes to health for the fifth-year man out of Boston College. Over the first five seasons of his career, he has missed two games. And he hasn't missed a game since the 2009 season.


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    Matt Ryan has finally developed into a quarterback that any Falcons fan could be proud of. His play on the field is tremendous, and he is looking like the field general that the Falcons took third overall in 2008. Off the field, he's the kind of man any owner would want.

    If Ryan can continue to play like he has all season, the Falcons could not just win the Super Bowl, but he could win the MVP award.

    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.


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