After the Atlanta Falcons (2-5) lost to the Arizona Cardinals (4-4) 27-13, the issues that has haunted this team even before the season began was simply highlighted and taken advantage of by the physical defense of the Cardinals. With plenty of blame to go around, one person that should not be blamed or even the same breath of that word is quarterback Matt Ryan.
As everyone turns on ESPN or watch the NFL Network, the first thing fans will see is the stat line of Ryan and his season-high four interceptions, which will most likely overshadow the fact that he was the only Falcon player that single-handedly kept them in the game.
Despite his four costly turnovers, the fact is that Ryan was running for his life on every single down, as if Chucky was chasing him with a knife, is pathetic. Standing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL is not a recipe of success, no matter who the quarterback is. Ryan’s performance was indeed one of his worst, in terms of turnovers, rating and overall play.
Now I am not excusing Ryan uncharacteristically throwing four interceptions in a game because that is never acceptable, especially a quarterback of his caliber and talent. However, Ryan should be the very last person to be blamed in a game where he simply did not have time to make accurate throws that we are accustomed of seeing from Mattie Ice.
Some people will point out that Ryan attempted 61 passes, and that he should have not attempted such a high number of passes. This is a correct statement that most people would agree with, unless your running game gains only 27 yards on 14 carries.
Even without any pass protection, Ryan still completed 34 passes for 301 yards through the air.
With the loss most likely ending any hopes of the Falcons making the playoffs, one thing that is not the issue is the quarterback play.
If the Falcons’ offensive line continues to give up vicious hits like the ones Ryan endured against the Cardinals, the Falcons may soon have an issue at that position, as Ryan will get knocked out before he becomes an issue for a Falcons’ team that has a wide range of problems.
Ryan had one of his worst performances in terms of turnovers, but certainly wasn’t the problem and will continue to not be the problem moving forward. The only thing Ryan should be blamed for is taking those bruising hits late in the game where the outcome was clear that the Falcons would not win.
Then again, that is what every great player does and unfortunately, that is the only thing Ryan should be guilty of.