Found February 08, 2014 on
PLAYERS: Matt Ryan
TEAMS: Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan’s first six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons has been filled with great success and disappointment.  His numbers from the regular season to the post-season make The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde seem ordinary. Ryan has proven time and time again he has the ability to lead his team to the playoffs, but it is what he does when he gets there that has skeptics criticizing his every move. As a rookie, Ryan completed his first ever throw to Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard touchdown.  That same year Ryan led the Falcons to a 10-6 record and gave Atlanta their first playoff berth in four years. His overall rookie season stats were respectable.  Ryan threw for more than 3400 yards, completed better than sixty percent of his passes, and threw sixteen touchdowns compared to eleven interceptions. His playoff season began that year with a road game against the Arizona Cardinals, led by future hall of famer Kurt Warner.  In that game, Ryan threw for just 199 yards to go along with two touchdowns and two interceptions.  It was not a major disappointment for Atlanta, as they were a playoff team for the first time since 2004 and they were led there by a rookie.  But since that first loss in Arizona, Ryan has only managed an overall playoff record of 1-4. Because of his playoff record, many believe Ryan still has a lot of work to do before he can ever be considered elite. He has brought a new level of respectability to the Atlanta franchise in his six seasons, and has accomplished many goals as a Falcon.  Through his first five seasons, Ryan had the most wins, fourth quarter comebacks, and game-winning drives of any other quarterback in that same time span.  He has led Atlanta to two No. 1 seeds in the NFC and led his team to consecutive winning seasons for the first time in franchise history (2008 and 2009). So what does Matt Ryan have to do in order to reach the elite level of NFL quarterbacks? First, it has to start with better performances and more wins against elite competition.  In his six seasons with Atlanta, the Falcons have a combined record of 11-20 against those who went on to be playoff teams later that season.  Elite quarterbacks find ways to win against the best competition.  This is something that has plagued Ryan in his time with Atlanta and partially explains his playoff record as a Falcon. Ryan’s next step in becoming an elite level quarterback has to come with protecting the football.  In the regular season Ryan has been one of the league’s best in protecting the football, but in five playoff games, the Falcons quarterback has thrown seven interceptions.  Ryan somehow has to find a way to carry over the positive momentum from the regular season into his playoff performances. Matt Ryan is an excellent quarterback and has, what I feel to be, the skill-set to lead the Falcons to more championships and multiple Super Bowl appearances.  Ryan is on the verge of being elite, but he has to find ways to protect the football in key situations and elevate his game against top competition.  The only way to silent the critics is to simply win when it counts.

Matt Ryan elite or not?

Over the last few years the word “elite” seems to define an NFL quarterback. What makes a quarterback elite? It does not seem there are predetermined factors that allow us to give that title to a player. Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game, elite or not. While he might not be elite, to those imaginary standards, Ryan had more regular...

Parting shot: Falcons TE Gonzalez says QB Ryan isn't yet 'elite'

On the surface, it seems pointless to debate the status of a quarterback who has accounted for 13,411 yards passing and 90 total touchdowns over the last three seasons, with an NFC championship appearance thrown into the mix. And yet, here we are, thanks to Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. Citing an ESPN The Magazine article that's due to hit the shelves soon, the future Hall...

Top five moments from the Atlanta Falcons 2013 season

Despite a very disappointing 4-12 season, where the Atlanta Falcons had hoped for a Super Bowl season, there were a few bright spots for this team. They were competitive all season long, and did play in some very exciting games. Here are the five best moments from the 2013 season: 5. Falcons knock off Rams for first win of the season In their home opener during week 2, the Falcons...

Gonzalez expands on Matt Ryan criticism: 'It's not a matter of 'if' but 'when' Ryan becomes elite'

Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez caused a stir when he told ESPN The Magazine that his quarterback Matt Ryan was an "excellent quarterback, but he's not elite." "He's this close. He'll get there, but he has some learning to do," Tony added, which to be honest, is a pretty fair example of constructive criticism. But it sure made headlines...

Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez Says Matt Ryan Isn’t “Elite”

Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan has done a lot in his first few NFL seasons, but has he done enough to be put in the elite category? His former teammate and Tony Gonzalez doesn’t think so. Gonzalez sat down with ESPN the Magazine writer Seth Wickersham and talked about his former play caller. “Matt’s an excellent quarterback. But he’s not elite. He’s this close...

Tony Gonzalez is jaded and eyeing a possible return to the NFL

If you weren’t a fan of Brett Farve’s retirement roller coaster, you might want to turn away. In an interview with Seth Wickersham of ESPN The Magazine, Tony Gonzalez let on that there is a greater than zero percent chance he could end up returning to football at some point next season “Maybe, if the team is hot in November, 9-2 or something, I could come back for the last...

Falcons expected to keep Osi Umenyiora

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Consittution believes the Falcons will keep defensive end Osi Umenyiora. “@dmbenjam: @AJCFalcons do you think the falcons will part ways with Decou & Osi?” — D. Orlando Ledbetter (@AJCFalcons) February 7, 2014 Umenyiora had a pretty good season after recording 47 tackles 7.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 1 interception.   Need...

Falcons name Harman assistant offensive line coach

The Atlanta Falcons have hired former Ravens longtime assistant Wade Harman as assistant offensive line coach. Harman spent the last 15 seasons on Baltimore's staff, including the last six as the tight ends coach. He coached the Ravens tight ends and assisted on the offensive line from 1999-07. He previously spent two years on the Minnesota Vikings' staff. Harman was the...

Tony Gonzalez keeps the door open for a comeback

According to Vaughn McClure of,  Tony Gonzalez told Doug Gottlieb that he might come back to play next season. Gonzalez to @GottliebShow on coming back, left open the possibility if Falcons 10-0. He's considered broadcast opportunities. — vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) February 7, 2014   Need NFL Tickets? Loading... ZergNet The post Tony Gonzalez...

Could Tony Gonzalez come back late in 2014?

Just a few weeks ago, future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez was “at peace” with his decision to retire after 17 seasons in the NFL. Now all of a sudden he sounds like a guy who might want to come back in 2014. On Friday, Gonzalez told ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb that he would be open to returning to the Atlanta Falcons in 2014 if they opened with a 10-0 record. Obviously Gonzalez...

Could family nudge Tony Gonzalez to return?

The variety of topics revealed in Seth Wickersham's ESPN The Magazine piece on Tony Gonzalez, including the Hall of Fame-bound tight end's thoughts on Matt Ryan's quarterback status and Gonzalez's apparent desire to be traded to a contender during this past season, created plenty conversation for days, maybe even weeks. One of the other subjects raised was whether...

Gators Welcome Back Mike Peterson; Former Florida, NFL Linebacker Joins Staff

Former Florida linebacker Mike Peterson has joined the Gators’ staff in a full-time role. Peterson will be joining the weight room staff as of February 24. Peterson was with the Gators during the 2013 football season as he had returned to the University of Florida to finish his degree. Upon the completion of his degree, head coach Will Muschamp looked to bring him on full time...

Who Stays And Who Goes in Atlanta

I’ve taken a mini vacation from writing about Falcons football. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in trying to erase the 2013 season from my memory. I’ll be back for the next seven to eight weeks to cover the off-season moves for Atlanta. That will be the boom period, where releases and additions will be made. Shockingly enough, Atlanta wasted little time and released two players...

Burnett denies insulting Gonzalez

Packers safety Morgan Burnett said he did not trash-talk or insult Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez when the teams met at Lambeau Field on Dec. 8. In a story that appeared in the latest edition of ESPN The Magazine, the future Hall of Famer said part of the reason he decided to retire rather than return to Atlanta was because none of his teammates came to his defense after...

Notebook: Former Vikings assistant joins Tice

Former Vikings assistant coach Wade Harman, who spent two years with Mike Tice on Dennis Green’s staff, will join Tice as assistants with the Atlanta Falcons.
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