Falcons Fans: Don’t Throw Matt Ryan Overboard


Following the Atlanta Falcons 22-point defeat to the New York Giants in the wild card round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday, there has been a great deal of message board fan anger directed towards their quarterback, former BC Eagle Matt Ryan. Furthermore, media talking heads have begun discussing the “what if Matt Ryan isn’t the answer” line, as he is now 0-3 in the playoffs. As an alum of Boston College, and coincidentally one who was in the same class year as Ryan, I find it to be upsetting.

I am a New York Giants season ticket holder, so I am thrilled with the outcome of the game, but am not satisfied with the piling on Ryan. Need I remind fans of the Atlanta Falcons that their team wasn’t exactly franchise perfect before he showed up. Before him, Atlanta had never strung together consecutive winning seasons; under Matt Ryan, they are 43-21 in the regular season and they’ve managed four straight winning years and counting. Obviously, they had also not had consecutive postseason appearances; under Ryan, they have made the playoffs back-to-back years, and three of his first four seasons as an NFL quarterback. Will the time come for him to take the leap forward in January, of course, but give the guy some credit for what he has been able to accomplish.

Besides, on Sunday, Matt Ryan was far from the only problem the Falcons had. On the 72-yard touchdown catch and run by Hakeem Nicks, his defense didn’t tackle. In fact, they experienced similar defensive lapses on more than one occasion. Further, head coach Mike Smith declined to take the points deep in Giants territory and elected to run — twice — right into the teeth of a strong Giants defensive line. Who can also forget another costly mistake he made with regards to going for it on 4th & 1 in overtime against New Orleans, deep in his own territory. Yes, if you’re going to give Ryan credit for what he’s accomplished, then you must also give Smith credit, as he was there to help lead it, but he was part of the problem as well.

Finally, as alluded to by the 4th & 1 failures, the Giants controlled the game at the line of scrimmage. The Falcons’ run game was completely shut down by the Giants’ front seven, while Atlanta’s allowed New York to rush for 172 yards. This just goes to show that when you lose a game by 22 points, it’s a team effort, and though Matt Ryan was very average, he was far from the only one.

To single Ryan out and call him a failure after four solid seasons is short-sighted, especially considering that the Falcons had never experienced consistent winning until he arrived. Make no mistake about it, the day may come where the Falcons move in another direction, but there is no doubting that Atlanta has been on the upswing with Ryan at the lead. I understand, I would probably be frustrated myself with three one-and-dones, but there is no reason to give up on him yet.