After making it to the NFC Championship Game last season, the Atlanta Falcons are far from having the same amount of success in the 2013 NFL season. Coming off of their bye in week six, the Falcons have a 1-4 record, are in third place in their division, and are well out of the playoff race as of right now.
Obviously the Falcons have some serious work to do if they want to live up to their preseason billing as one of the favorites in the conference. They have a favorable schedule coming off of their bye week, but they are going to have to play much better than they have, even without star wide receiver Julio Jones suiting up. However, quarterback Matt Ryan just needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
Before last season when he led them to that NFC Championship game, Ryan was often criticized for not being able to make the big plays and lead his team. Through the Falcons first five games of this season, though, he has been one of the few bright spots and has been the catalyst to most of the little success that this team has found.
Ryan has completed a solid 69.3 percent of his passes this year, higher than his career average of 63.2 percent, and has accrued 1,649 passing yards for 10 touchdowns to only three interceptions. He certainly hasn’t been dominant, but he’s been consistent, which is saying a lot considering the situation that he’s been dealing with this season.
For starters, the Falcons have struggled in the running game with Steven Jackson out. Without their running game, Ryan has been relied on heavily and has done a solid job in getting the job done. Secondly, he’s been throwing to a depleted receiving core. Obviously having Jones for those first five weeks helped, but having a hobbled Roddy White is extremely detrimental to this Falcons offense and the fact that Ryan has been able to be productive with White contributing near-nothing is impressive.
Ryan may not be in the same mold as the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys of the NFL, but he’s definitely in the upper-tier of quarterbacks in this league. If you want to blame the Falcons’ struggles this far on something or someone, look to injuries or their defense, but don’t even think about putting this on Ryan. He’s been as good as you could ask with the hand that’s been dealt to him.