Originally posted on Bloguin Best  |  Last updated 12/7/11

Is Matt Ryan a disappointing QB? Or a good QB on a disappointing team? The answer, maddeningly enough, is both. And the reality is that the Atlanta Falcons will either succeed or fail based on which quarterback plays on Sunday. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is coming up on a crossroads early in his career.

When Matt Ryan is good, he is very, very good.

Ryan tossed a career-high 28 touchdown passes last season. With 14 touchdown passes in nine games, he's on pace to throw for 26 in 2011. However, he threw just nine interceptions last year and has 10 already this season.

Ryan has thrown at least one touchdown pass in a career-best 15 straight games, and has found a receiver in the end zone in 23 of his last 24 games. And in this season's week 2 win over the Eagles, Ryan set a career-high with four touchdown passes. It was also the seventh time he has thrown for at least three scores.

The Falcons are 21-5 since 2008 when Ryan throws multiple touchdown passes, and are 37-12 when he finds a man in the end zone at least once. His 85 touchdowns since 2008 rank fourth in the NFC and ninth overall.

Then there is the Elway factor.

Ryan has led the Falcons on 15 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime during his first four seasons. He had a chance to post his 16th such drive last week against the Saints, but the potential game-winning drive stalled at the 29-yard line after head coach Mike Smith elected to go for it on a fourth-and-inches and the Falcons were stuffed.

After guiding the Falcons to the playoffs in two of his first three years, the team was considered a Super Bowl contender in his fourth season. But the Falcons are 7-5 and will have to close out the season with a winning flurry to return to the playoffs and defend their NFC South title.

If the Falcons are going to make a surge, they'll need Ryan to revert to his 2010 form.

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