Not Enough Reason to Believe Matt Ryan Has Already Hit Ceiling

By Thomas Emerick
Matt Ryan
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

One phrase I’ve heard bandied about in NFL and fantasy football podcasts over the past few weeks is that Matt Ryan hit his ceiling in the 2012 season: That because his numbers jumped so dramatically last year and that Michael Turner was such a poor goal-line back — increasing Ryan’s red-zone touchdown throws — that Ryan has pretty much maxed out statistically already.

This sounds like a theory that could seem very odd in hindsight, when said ceiling ends up being raised. It’s fine to have that perspective, but I just very much disagree. Ryan’s fantasy numbers have improved each season since joining the NFL, and his numbers just pertaining to becoming an elite quarterback jumped dramatically last season — improving by about seven points in quarterback rating and completion percentage along with nearly 600 more passing yards than in 2011.

Ryan ripped the San Francisco 49ers for 396 yards and led a game-winning drive against the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs last year, so if he carries that momentum then his regular-season numbers should only rise in 2013. If Julio Jones stays at that next gear he reached in the playoffs, then Ryan’s numbers will only benefit.

My only main concern is the offensive line, which has been shuffled around a bit and just lost heir apparent right tackle Matt Johnson, ostensibly to be replaced by rookie Lamar Holmes. However, if Ryan truly plays at the elite level he showed last postseason, then offensive line growing pains can be neutralized.

“I think Lamar has done a really good job this camp and really this offseason, too. He’s gotten himself into really good shape and he’s been practicing well,” Ryan told the media a day before the Falcons’ Week 1 preseason contest against the Cincinnati Bengals. “It’s just one of those things where you have to focus when you are in that position.

“Every team has young guys that have to fill in and step up and play for you. … We have four games to get out there and get jelled together on the offensive line. And our veteran guys–Justin Blalock, Sam Baker, Garrett Reynolds—those guys will do a really good job of bringing those young guys along.”

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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