Matt Ryan‘s career might be coming to a sad, abrupt end. For 14 years, the Boston College product was the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise, starting every game but three. He had the most significant impact in pulling the organization out of despair following Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino’s respective exits.
And that’s what Falcons fans should remember, not what is happening presently. The 37-year-old was benched for the second time in one season with the Colts. Two different head coaches have made the decision to turn away from Ryan. First, it was Frank Reich, who went with Sam Ehlinger over the veteran. Now, it’s interim Jeff Saturday turning to another veteran in Nick Foles.
The Colts hold a 4-9-1 record, and to say the season has been a disappointment would be an understatement. The greatest player in Falcons history was supposed to join a loaded roster that was one signal caller away from seriously competing in the postseason, but it’s been nothing but turmoil. Most facets of the Colts team are underperforming, including Matt Ryan, and Reich was fired.
It’s disheartening to see for Falcons fans. To add insult to injury, Ryan’s final appearance as a starter could be the Colts’ 39-36 overtime loss to the Vikings, which included a record-breaking 33-point blown lead. The supposed storybook ending Ryan or his fans were hoping for has become a tragedy. His final stat line could be a measly 3,057 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions on 67% passing.
The Falcons will undoubtedly induct Matt Ryan into the Ring of Honor as soon as humanly possible, and the clock should start ticking following the 2022 campaign. Ryan needs to hang up the cleats. The Colts didn’t hold up their end of the bargain with the veteran, but Ryan has clearly lost a step. Not everyone ages like Tom Brady. His career with the Falcons will be cherished in Atlanta forever; his accomplishments won’t be scoffed at. But it’s time.
For the Falcons, it seems they got out at the right time. Ryan netted the organization a third-round pick, resulting in DeAngelo Malone. The rookie pass rusher has posted four tackles for loss, one sack, two quarterback hits, and 21 tackles on the season. Malone has only been in a rotational role but could become more as he develops. But the most important detail of this trade was getting out from underneath Ryan’s bloated contract, which didn’t come without significant consequences — a record-breaking dead cap hit.
While seeing Matt Ryan decline and fail with yet another poorly run franchise hurts, the Falcons seemingly came out on top, just like they did with Julio Jones.
Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire
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