In the 2008 season, the Atlanta Falcons had one of the better turnarounds in recent memory. After finishing as the third worst team in the National Football League, the team looked for a new face of the franchise.
The ongoing dogfighting incidents of Michael Vick began to affect the team at this time. While some fans wanted Vick gone for good, you also had the other half of Falcon Nation who stood up for him, and wanted him to return.
In total, the organization took a hit financially, having a tough time filling seats in the rough year. However, Atlanta changed for the better in the 2008 NFL Draft.
"With the third pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons select...Matthew Ryan, quarterback, Boston College."
What a shocking turn of events it was in the Radio City Music Hall. The Falcons selected Matt Ryan, the new look of the franchise.
However, he just wasn't the quarterback. He was labeled the savior of the franchise.
It was tough for fans to move on without Michael Vick, and realize that Matt Ryan is the man running the show for the red and black. However, they all took back their word when they saw the season Matt Ryan put up in his rookie season.
In his first year, Ryan passed for 3,440 yards, 16 TDs, 11 INTs.
The stats aren't unbelievable. It was surely enough for Ryan to earn the Rookie Of The Year honors.
Oh, and you should also keep in mind that he led the Falcons to the playoffs, an idea that Mike Vick didn't experience greatly. They lost to the Super Bowl runner-up in the Arizona Cardinals, however, and the talk began.
Ryan surely made a name for himself in his first campaign as quarterback, already being mentioned by some as a top five quarterback for the 2009 season.
Whoa, those are big expectations for a second year quarterback. Can he succeed to the goals that are being brought upon him?
It is likely that he will improve on his season, a season where he had a passer rating of an 87.7.
The running game should be effective as last season, with Michael Turner taking the rushes. Many people were surprised of Turner having his breakout season.
Turner always did have potential. However, he was overshadowed by LT.
The play-action will be crucial for Ryan in 2009, especially if the interception level will want to be leveled.
Wide receiver Roddy White also had a breakout season of his own. White had 88 receptions for 1,382 yards and seven TD catches.
Many people have White as a top 10 receiver. If he can put up another season as he did last year, he will surely be in the discussion.
Finally, the addition of Tony Gonzalez will help Ryan's case this year.
A future Hall of Famer, Gonzalez was the biggest bright spot on the Chiefs offense, who did struggle last year. Gonzalez now comes to a team with an offensive line to work with, a top yard running back, a No. 1 receiver, and most importantly, a quarterback to throw him the ball to.
Ryan gets the extra weapon he could use to take his game up, which should open more opportunities to White and Turner on the ground.
The time has come in Atlanta, and the 2009 season is looking bright for Matt Ryan and the Falcons. There is a great amount of expectations on his back this season, but he will look to improve himself to the people who feel he is unproven.
Predictions for Ryan: 3,832 yards, 32 TD, 9-to-10 INT, another playoff berth for Falcons.
This may seem like a ton of hype for Ryan to fill. Yet, I do see him taking the next step and becoming an elite quarterback in the National Football League.