Scouting Report: Everything Matt Ryan

Matt-Ryan-Atlanta-FalconsScouting Report: Everything Matt Ryan | Chris Schisler | June 22, 2013
Matt Ryan has been crowned as one of the best quarterbacks in football despite his lack of playoff success. Ryan is a good quarterback but he gets more respect and credit than he probably deserves. The media loves the Falcons quarterback who is heading into his sixth season. Many people see Ryan as elite. I have a hard time with this classification. An elite quarterback must give his team a chance to win a championship. While Matt Ryan has a good stat line in the regular season he is far from perfect in the post season. On a team filled with talent and a tremendous coaching staff, Matt Ryan needs to lift the Falcons higher than he has. This is a quarterback whose nickname contradicts reality. He may be “Matty Ice” but he plays his worst in the big moments. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback if just getting to the playoffs is good enough for you; but in the playoffs I do not trust the man to come up big.
Matt Ryan does a lot of things well. He has developed a great chemistry with his receivers, he has a high football IQ, and when he is feeling it, he is hard to stop. Ryan has good footwork, and a good arm. At times he is very accurate passer. He is great at the play fake. Matt Ryan was drafted so highly for a reason. He is fundamentally sound and is a solid quarterback. This is important to note because when I write about his flaws this may be forgotten. I personally cannot stand Matt Ryan. It has more to do with the attention he gets as a “superstar” than it does with Matt Ryan himself. We have to remember how unaccomplished he is in the big moment.
John Langley and I discussed how to beat Matt Ryan on our podcast in great length. John has a theory which I think accurately explains Matt Ryan’s weakness. John argues that Matt Ryan is bailed out by great receiver play and that the weapons hide Ryan’s faults most of the time. Adding to this argument John says that Ryan gets rattled easily and that he is not very confident in his deep throws, he hesitates to throw against any deep coverage. To add to this concept John lays out for us, I think Ryan leads defenders to the football with his eyes. This behavior would support the idea that he struggles to be confident in his arm. This lack of confidence leads to a lot of bad often late throws off his back foot. Matt Ryan’s mechanical flaws only show when he is rattled. When given time and his receivers win matchups Ryan is a machine. That is not good enough in the NFL in order to be great. If the key to beating Ryan is to pressure him and get him shaky, you must blitz with the fury of the universe.
The construction of the Falcons offense is genius. It is like a nuclear power plant. There are tons of redundant alarms or safe checks to avoid the quarterback’s disastrous meltdowns. The Falcons know that defenses want to pressure Matt Ryan into making imprudent mistakes. They also understand that Matt Ryan has a good deep ball but hesitates to use it. The Falcons have surrounded Matt Ryan with wide receivers that will go up in the air and snatch to make the big play. Ryan is surrounded by a usually solid run game and a great screen game. Repetitive screens to the receivers not only slows the pass rush down it sets up the open deep ball Ryan so desperately needs. Covering Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzales in man coverage is tough for any team. It forces zone coverage and this deters some defensive coaches’ ways to blitz like a mad doctor. In short the offense dictates coverage, Protects Ryan from pressure, and builds the quarterback’s confidence.
The way to beat Ryan and his Falcons is to blitz with responsible deep coverage. I would never play Cover 2 against this team it’s exactly what they want. In cover 2 White and Jones win deep on the sidelines and Tony Gonzales splits the two deep zones with relative ease. There should always be 3 or 4 men splitting the deep portions of the field. I want to pressure Matt Ryan to his wits end with a 4 man rush if I can, but will bring 5 if necessary. The key is to force the Falcons to dink and dunk and to sustain long drives to score. Matt Ryan will make mistakes if forced to live without the big play. If you make them settle for field goals, you better win the game. That’s what it’s all about against the Falcons. You must make the offense work for it.
Matt Ryan is not a bad quarterback, but he is much less perfect than the media would portray. The man is talked about as a living legend in some circles…I’m sorry what has he accomplished? You can babble on about his statistics, no stat will change my mind. Well one thing will: Playoff success.


  • Ryan is one of my favorite players, so this was a good read. What is your opinion of him after this disastrous season? Many people consider the Falcons to have one of the worst offensive lines in football, but I really don’t know if that’s true or not (don’t get falcons games in Michigan). Losing his best receiver can be used as one excuse, but franchise quarterbacks are supposed to overcome these types of things. I’ve always believed in the idea of “the pieces around a quarterback dictate his success”, more than others, but I’m not sure how that applies to the Falcons situation.

    Watching Drew Brees and the Saints offense lay an egg against the rams increases my belief in that idea even more (their offensive line isn’t as good as past seasons), although I believe Brees still has arguably the league’s best and most well rounded group of receiving weapons at his disposal.

    Either way, what is your opinion of Matt Ryan’s season this far? How much blame does he deserve for their very poor start?

    Thank you.

    • I appreciate that you are a Matt Ryan fan. There is a lot to like about Ryan. He is not a horrible quarterback by any stretch but he is not a great one.

      Matt Ryan is not solely accountable for the Falcons disaster of a year. Honestly they are not a good football team this season. He is however accountable for a good bit.

      Ryan has always had a ton of talent. More talent on offense than a lot of great quarterbacks had would be an understatement. Tom Brady won three Super Bowls with Troy Brown and David Patten. Joe Flacco drafted in the same year has 25 times the success of Ryan. Flacco has won a Super Bowl with a hand me down Anquan Boldin as his best weapon. He had guys like TJ Houshmanzadah, Lee Evans, an old and slowed down Todd Heap & Derrick Mason in years past. Yet he has won more road playoff games than anyone in the history of the league. Matt Ryan has squandered road playoff games.

      Matt Ryan makes bad decisions. When pressured in the big moment he is much more prone to a dumb throw than a game winner. He relies heavily on his receivers to bail him out. Without Julio Jones, Ryan has been exposed.

      Until he elevates his team to a Super Bowl I will not believe in him. He is in the same class as guys like Andy Dalton & Matthew Stafford. He is not a Brady, Rodgers, Manning, Brees or even a Flacco class.

      I hope this answers your question completely.

      Thank you for reading! We really strive to be fair and accurate at Common Sense Football. We have two rules for our writers. You must have a strong opinion. Secondly this opinion must be based on what you see on the field.

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