Monkey off his back? Not quite.
That was last week. This week, that all-too-familiar monkey claws its way back up, and Matty Ice will yet again have to answer questions about his viability as a quarterback who can lead the Atlanta Falcons to the promised land. This year was arguable the Atlanta Falcon’s best team, led by the most dynamic 1-2 receiver duo in Roddy White and Julio Jones, and a dangerous rushing attack led by bowling ball Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers may have had the most important limited role on any team – he carried the ball 94 times, didn’t fumble a single time, and averaged 3.9 YPC. As a number 2 back behind workhorse Michael Turner, his role in the offense was more important than anyone would have guessed at the beginning of the season.
However, I digress. This is about Matt Ryan. He knows that in the next few days, as he steps up to the podium for the 4th time after a playoff loss (although I will say, this could be the 3rd time he lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion – I can’t penalize him for running into the steamroller that was the 2010-11 Green Bay Packers team), Ryan knows that virtually every question will be about his failures and whether or not he’s the right guy to lead a franchise seeking its first Super Bowl Title. Furthermore, questions will begin to arise relating to the Falcons’ potential move to $1 billion new stadium in 2017 and whether or not Matt Ryan could bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Atlanta before that happens. Arthur Blank knows how much a Super Bowl would boost his chances to get public support for the move while a perfectly fine Georgia Dome will be left in favor of a stadium with a retractable roof.
So what does $1 billion + a new stadium + 0 Super Bowls equal?
Matt Ryan needs to step up, plain and simple. Ryan will likely be getting a contract extension this upcoming offseason, probably worth much more than the quarterback should really command. His surrounding cast is better than many of the past Super Bowl winners have played with, and he’s lucky enough to have a real running game (something for which Aaron Rodgers would kill). Sure, Ryan picked up his first career postseason win, led the league in completion percentage, and threw 32 touchdowns as compared to 14 picks. If he gets his extension, there’s no doubt that it will be more than 2 or 3 years.
However, Arthur Blank, you need to ask yourself one thing: Is Matt Ryan really a franchise guy who will give you the best chance to win a Super Bowl in the next 5 years? Roddy White is 31 and isn’t going to get any younger (unless the Falcons take the $1 billion and put it towards a hot tub time machine…that’s actually not a bad idea). Arthur, this is your best shot.
Expect the deal to be done in the next few weeks, worth somewhere in the range of $100 million. Tonight, the 27 year old showed that he has a little way to come, throwing a key interception and fumbling a snap, but expect a title in the next 5 years. Matty Ice will learn, and one of these years, assholes like me won’t get to write articles questioning his viability as a franchise quarterback.
Until then, Matt Ryan…