What Makes Matt Ryan a Top 5 Quarterback
Yes, I said it, Matt Ryan is a top five quarterback in the NFL right now. Now I know what you might be thinking, “Matt Ryan has two first names, I can’t trust him”. If you’re able to put the two first name bias aside, you might think of the four guys who are undoubtedly deserving of being denoted as top five in the league at their position. Most people will have some combination of ketchup addict Pat Mahomes, GOAT incarnate Tom Brady, wholesome Drew Brees and can’t-chug-a-beer to-save-his-life Aaron Rodgers. Matt Ryan doesn’t have Mahomes’ arm, Brady’s hardware, Brees’ consistency or Rodgers’ attitude; but what he does have, is the stats to be in the same conversation as all of them.
I want to preface the statistical portion of the article by saying 2018 was a phenomenal year for QB play and scoring in general. We got to watch the most total touchdowns thrown in a single NFL season EVER (847), along with the second ever 50 TD, 5000 yard season ala Pat Mahomes, the highest percentage of drives ending in points be scored (36.5%), and the second most total points ever scored in a single season (like half of those came when the Chiefs and Rams played, right?).
Back to underappreciated, appropriately paid Matt Ryan; he’s a flat-out baller. Ryan’s absence from the “best of the best” conversation probably stems from him being consistent, but never the top guy at his position… until he was voted league MVP in 2016. Now fast forward to last year where Ryan had a very similar year. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the stat comparison for Ryan’s MVP year in 2016 and what he did last year.
The NFL and professional sports in general are a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, so what has Ryan done lately? I’m glad you asked, because here come some facts. Ryan finished ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in such categories as completions, completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns. My personal favorite stat from Ryan’s 2018 season was his interception percentage, which is the frequency with which a QB will throw an interception. With this stat, you are not accounting for smart in complete passes or throwaways, which are a strong testament to how intelligent a quarterback is. Not forcing a pass into the teeth of the defense is something you should be rewarded for. Ryan’s interception percentage was 1.2%, which is only second to Rodgers (0.3%) and Drew Brees’ (1.0%). It is also important to note that Rodgers’ 0.3% interception percentage is the lowest ever in a single season and Brees’ 1.0% was the twelfth lowest ever. Just to have your name among guys like Rogers’ and Brees’, statistically two of the most accurate passers ever, is impressive on its own, but Ryan’s numbers tell a little more than that. Ryan was the only quarterback to finish in the top five in attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns, interception percentage and quarterback rating. The only quarterback in the entire league with those rankings…let that sink in. That is the epitome of consistency and all-around talent.
I get it, Matt Ryan will never be the personality or brand that other big-name guys will be. The NFL is a personality driven game, where headlines and clicks will play a huge part in how you are perceived by your peers, as well as the public. But by god if you don’t put some respect on Matt Ryan’s name after reading this we’ll have to sort this out in a ladders and chairs, steel cage deathmatch… I’m sorry; I got worked up for a second there. Seriously though, I didn’t think Matt Ryan was as good as he was last year until I did a little homework. I’m not a Falcons fan, I’m not a Brady/Brees/Rodgers hater, but I am impartial with my research, and Matt Ryan IS a top 5 quarterback in the NFL.