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Monday, September 24, 2012

Falcons’ Matt Ryan is league’s top-rated quarterback

I still can’t believe it. In a quarterback-driven league that features marquee names like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, it’s truly amazing to see the Atlanta Falcons’ Matt Ryan leading the league with a 114 quarterback rating.

What’s even better than Ryan’s QB rating though is the Falcons’ 3-0 record so far this season. They are averaging a 15-point margin in their three victories. Now sure all three wins have come from the weak AFC West but the Falcons have had plenty of opportunities to commit one of their usual letdowns and haven’t.

In fact the Falcons have looked strong on both sides of the ball in all three contests. They beat up on the weak Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 which was not a surprise. Falcons’ head coach Mike Smith usually wins the games he is supposed to win.

But then they navigated a potential landmine against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Week 2. Now some might feel that the Falcons were just lucky to draw Manning that early in the season. Manning has since Manning is still trying to gain consistency with his new team.

Although they were able to lure Manning into three early interceptions in that game, Manning nearly mounted a comeback over the Falcons in the fourth quarter.

Their last game was the most impressive though. Atlanta’s defense forced the San Diego Chargers to commit four turnovers and Ryan was nearly flawless picking apart the Chargers’ defense.

San Diego’s defense looked pretty good in their first two games but looked totally deflated by the fourth quarter of their game against Atlanta. The Falcons had every excuse to lose considering they had to travel across country to play the Chargers on a short week but they totally crushed San Diego on Sunday.

The Falcons are an amazing plus-10 in turnovers thanks to their new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, but Ryan’s improvement running the no-huddle offense is the biggest key to Atlanta’s great start.

Ryan has done a much better job this year of spreading the ball around and has finally learned how to take advantage of all the weapons that Atlanta’s management has placed around him. He is also minimizing mistakes on the field and only has one interception on the season.

Ryan’s improved play has finally made it possible for the Falcons to decrease its reliance on Michael Turner’s running ability.

Atlanta has gone 22-3 over the past four seasons when Turner has rushed for over 100 yards and they are 27-6 when Turner has scored at least one touchdown. Turner has yet to crack the 100-yard mark this season but the Falcons are undefeated.

But that is a change Atlanta’s coaching staff and management felt had to be made. Atlanta’s reliance on the run has done little good for them during their three playoff losses.

All three of Atlanta’s playoff losses during the Matt Ryan/Mike Smith era have come at the hands of a dynamic quarterback. While a good running game helps when the defense can keep the score low, it doesn’t help when you have to face quarterbacks that can post 30+ points with ease.  

It does help your cause though when you have a trigger-man who is equally as dangerous. Ryan’s play so far this year may signify that he is ready to join that upper echelon of quarterbacks in the league and if so, then expect him to help elevate the Falcons into the league’s upper echelon of teams.

Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist.
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