Prior to each season in the National Football League, ESPN pro football analyst Ron Jaworski kicks things off with a ranking of the starting quarterbacks around the league. This season, “Jaws” has ranked Atlanta Falcons signal caller Matt Ryan at number eight, ahead of a few notable names.
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) July 21, 2014
The tweet above from ESPN lists the top-16 on Jaworski’s list, and it is certainly a hat-tip to the work of Matt Ryan. The simple fact that he lists Ryan ahead of last season’s Super Bowl winner, Russell Wilson, is notable, but Atlanta’s QB also ranks ahead of Colin Kaepernick, former UGA quarterback Matthew Stafford, and NFC South rival Cam Newton on the 2014 edition.
Despite the struggles of the 2013 Atlanta Falcons, the now 29-year-old Ryan had a more than respectable season. Ryan threw for more than 4,500 yards and 26 touchdowns without the benefit of a healthy Julio Jones for the great majority of the season (and with Roddy White visibly hampered), and his ability to rack up that kind of production without a reliable running game is a testament to his ability.
To be honest, it was a bit jarring to see Matt Ryan listed among the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL, if only because the majority of pundits don’t seem to grant him the respect he deserves. With the duo of Jones and White back and healthy, it will be interesting to see what type of statistical excellence Ryan can produce, but more than that, his steady hand will be on the controls as the Falcons aim to for a big-time turnaround following a disastrous campaign last season.
Matt Ryan is a top-10 quarterback, and in a few weeks, he’ll have the opportunity to back up that ranking.