Matt Ryan: Will he lead Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl?


Matt Ryan will begin his ninth season as the starting quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. Will he lead Atlanta to a Super Bowl before ending his NFL career?

Matt Ryan leads the Atlanta Falcons in most career passing categories in his eight NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He has helped guide the Dirty Birds to four NFC Playoff berths, but only boasts a 1-4 record in the postseason.

With Super Bowl 50 approaching on Sunday and the Atlanta Falcons will yet again watch the Battle for the Lombardi Trophy at home, will Matt Ryan end up leading the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl before he calls it a career?

Ryan and the 13-3 2012 Atlanta Falcons came up 10 yards short of making it to the franchise’s second ever trip to the Super Bowl, blowing a 17-0 lead at halftime in the 2012 NFC Championship at home to the No. 2 seed San Francisco 49ers.

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Since that fateful day in late January 2013, the Atlanta Falcons have been a sub-.500 team in the NFC, missing the playoffs all three years since.

Matt Ryan is coming off his worst statistical season since his rookie season in 2008 and will play the 2016 NFL season as a 31-year-old. He’s still our guy under center as the Atlanta Falcons’ franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Ryan is under contract with Atlanta through the 2018 NFL season. He will become an unrestricted free agent in 2019 as a 34-year-old, 12-year NFL veteran quarterback.

Admittedly, Ryan doesn’t have a great NFL arm, but derives most of his success as an NFL quarterback through a high completion percentage and being able to execute efficient drives late in halves. Having a cannon for an arm doesn’t equate to having success in the NFC Playoffs, but it does help cut the football through the cold air in outdoor stadiums in January.

Ryan will grow in Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast offense in year two, as much of the verbiage won’t seem so foreign to him as compared to Dirk Koetter’s highly effective Air Coryell aerially attack in 2012-14.

Related Story: Dan Quinn: What needs to happen in year two in Atlanta?

Matt Ryan is fortunate to have had only three offensive coordinators in his eight years with the Atlanta Falcons and three pretty good ones at that: Mike Mularkey (2008-11), Dirk Koetter (2012-14), and now Kyle Shanahan (2015-present).

As the Atlanta Falcons’ front office strives to put together a strong football team around its three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, Ryan should have at one, maybe two more strong opportunities to make some noise in the NFC Playoffs before becoming an unrestricted free agent in spring of 2019.

He may end up being in the back-end of his prime by then, but I don’t expect him to fall of a cliff physically for another five or six years. At this stage of his NFL career, Matt Ryan isn’t capable of solely leading the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl, but would have no problem running an offense that can put up points for a Super Bowl caliber team in Atlanta.

What Matt Ryan needs is to get the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl in the next few years is two-fold: a strong running game that can open up the pass and a defense that can force plenty of three and outs.

Ryan being able to throw a highly catchable ball is great for his wideouts, but does open up more opportunities for defensive backs to make plays on his passes. The running game being strong will give Matt Ryan more space to effectively target his hopefully improved wide receiving corps.

However, the biggest thing Matt Ryan needs to lead the Atlanta Falcons to a Super Bowl is a top 10 defense. That is on both head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff to build in the next few years. Atlanta went from a bottom five defense unit to middle of the pack in year on under Dan Quinn.

Next: Matt Schaub: Interested in being Matt Ryan's backup?

Making the right draft selections and carefully choosing the right scheme fits in free agency (I can’t emphasize that enough) will ultimately serve as the perfect complement to help Matt Ryan lead the Atlanta Falcons to their second ever trip to the Super Bowl. Rise Up!