On This Day 10 Years Ago, The Falcons Drafted Matt Ryan And Changed The Course Of Franchise History

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Quarterback Matt Ryan
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 13: Quarterback Matt Ryan /

On April 26, 2008, the Falcons overcame the nightmare that was 2007 by drafting Matt Ryan third overall.

In the 2006 season, Falcon’s Quarterback Michael Vick seemed as though he was going to reach his prime and take Atlanta to the next level as he totaled 2,474 yards, 20 touchdowns and broke the single-season record for rushing yards by a QB at 1,039. Despite some solid performances, Atlanta still finished 7-9.

Heading into the 2007 offseason, the Falcons signed Bobby Petrino to acclimate Vick’s style of play. Once Vick experienced off-the-field issues, was sent to prison and went on to miss two NFL seasons, everything went south for Atlanta. That year Petrino resigned mid-season and the team finished 4-12.

What the Falcons didn’t realize was that their nightmare would be short-lived. Matt Ryan was sensational at Boston College and they knew he would be available by the time they would have their selection at number three at the 2008 NFL Draft. That’s exactly what would happen and the fate of the Falcons’ franchise changed forever.

Ryan made an impact for the Falcons immediately as his first professional pass was a touchdown in Week 1 against the Lions. Atlanta finished 11-5 and he won rookie of the year. Four of his first five seasons consisted of postseason appearances for the Falcons.

In the 2012 season, critics believed in Ryan’s potential but the dark cloud hovering over him was the fact that he hadn’t won a playoff game. That changed as they defeated the Seahawks 30-28 in the divisional round after finishing 13-3 on a Matt Bryant field goal after previously blowing a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Ryan would continue to post big numbers from the 2013-2015 seasons but all resulted in no playoff appearances by the Falcons. Patience paid off though, as Ryan’s 2016 campaign was one for the ages. He totaled 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and won NFL MVP. The Falcons also appeared in the Super Bowl 51 but suffered a heartbreaker vs the Patriots.

In the 2017 season, Ryan became the fastest QB to eclipse the 40,000 passing yard mark. In what was considered an “off-year” for Ryan, he still led the Falcons to a 10-6 record. Atlanta was also the only NFC playoff team from the previous season.

The team was destined to avenge their Super Bowl loss but fell short in the divisional round to the Eagles in Philadelphia, 15-10. The Falcons were one missed Julio Jones catch from defeating the soon-to-be Super Bowl champs. Despite that loss, it gave Ryan and the Falcons every reason to be confident that they can beat the Eagles in 2018 as the defense held Philadelphia to 15 points. Along with the fact that they had solid games from Jones and Tevin Coleman, who did a solid job of carrying the load for Devonta Freeman when he was injured throughout the year.

Yes, the Falcons still have not hoisted the prestigious Lombardi Trophy since Ryan arrived in Atlanta but they are very close to it. Ryan can still perform at a high level and the Falcons still have a top 10 offense and defense. Expect Ryan to revert back to his 2016 ways in 2018 as Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian should be adjusted to his system of coaching at an NFL level.

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Matt Ryan has been without a doubt the best player in Falcons franchise history and will be a Hall of Famer one day. A Super Bowl ring would solidify that and 2018 could just be the year Ryan and the Falcons win it all.