You wouldn’t say Matt Ryan has the best arm in the league. He isn’t the most accurate passer. He doesn’t throw with the best anticipation, or read coverage better than every other quarterback. Because he isn’t the absolute best at any one thing, Ryan is often interpreted to be just another quarterback. Nothing special. However, he is one of the few quarterbacks in the league who does possess all of the skills mentioned above, and that, in of itself, does make him somewhat special.
If Peyton Manning wasn’t in the NFL, Matt Ryan might be known for his skills at the line of scrimmage. He might be known for the command he has of his offense. Unfortunately for Ryan, he isn’t really known for these things. This is a real shame for a quarterback who can be counted on to do the right thing with the ball most of the time.
2013 was somewhat of an aberration for Ryan. Running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Roddy White missed a combined 7 games and fought through injuries all season. Julio Jones missed 11 games with a foot injury. That’ll throw a wrench into any quarterback’s season. Additionally, the offensive line was overpowered often, and the pocket collapsed around Ryan regularly.
Luckily for the Falcons, throwing with bodies around him is another one of Matt Ryan’s various passing skills. He’s come a long way in this department, and it’s extremely impressive to watch on film. He does not need a lot of functional space to get rid of the ball on time and accurately. He often gets rid of the ball in the face of pressure as if no one is even around him, and this is a vital skill for a quarterback to possess. Most quarterbacks, especially young ones, tend to break down if they sense a little pressure or see a defender closing in on them. It is not a skill that is easily taught, but instead, is a reflection of toughness and poise in the pocket, two things for which Ryan is seldom given enough credit.
The Falcons struggled mightily as a team in 2013, but you’re mistaken if you think that Matt Ryan was the reason why. If his team can stay healthy around him, he should have a bounce-back year in 2014. Maybe by the end of the season, Ryan will finally get some of the credit he deserves.