It has become almost accepted that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will remain perennially underrated, at least until he can lead the team to a Super Bowl appearance, but recently, that realization was cemented. As they do every season, the NFL Network released their list of the top 100 players in the NFL for the upcoming 2014 campaign, and in a bizarre twist, Ryan was omitted from the rankings.
After a rough 2013 season, it may not seem particularly crazy to see Ryan left off of a list that includes, on average, only approximately three players per NFL team, but when examining the list of quarterbacks who were slotted in the top 100, the issue arises. Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, San Diego’s Philip Rivers, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco, Philadelphia’s Nick Foles, the infamous Tony Romo and former UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford were all ranked in the top 100, and frankly, there are issues with each of those selections over Ryan.
Without diving too deep into the minutia, the 29-year-old Ryan topped 4,500 yards passing with 26 touchdowns last season, and he did so without the benefit of his top target in Julio Jones and with a banged-up Roddy White. In addition, Atlanta’s offensive line was, by all accounts, one of the worst in the entire NFL last season, and a quick examination on a player-for-player basis would indicate that Ryan should receive the benefit of the doubt.
While players like Roethlisberger and Flacco possess Super Bowl rings, there is no reasonable statistical measure that would place either player ahead of Ryan, and the inclusion of Nick Foles (!) raises a pile of questions about small sample and recency bias. Still, Matt Ryan is the type of quarterback who will almost certainly thrive and use this information as a motivation as the season opens, and even if you don’t believe in that type of karma, Falcons fans can take solace in having an extremely focused signal caller.
The NFL season is still weeks away, but the Atlanta faithful can already begin to push back against the establishment.