There’s no reason to beat around the bush — 2020 was miserable for the Atlanta Falcons, and nobody inside the organization is absent from blame… including the 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan.
This season, Ryan’s performance was a roller-coaster ride. He began the year without missing a beat, tossing six touchdowns in the first two games against the Seahawks and Cowboys. Unfortunately, the Falcons still lost both of those matchups and we soon found out that Seattle and Dallas featured two of the worst defenses in the NFL early in the season. Ryan then only tossed one touchdown over the next three weeks before exploding in Minnesota for four of them. However, once again, the Vikings defense was among the worst in football.
Ryan’s trend of struggling against better defenses continued for most of the season. He only managed to throw one touchdown compared to two interceptions in the two games against the Saints and completely blew the Falcons Week 14 matchup with the Chargers by throwing three picks. Following that game was the first time that it was genuinely fair to question whether the Falcons should move on from Ryan after the 2020 season. However, the way he bounced back over the last three weeks proved he still has enough left in the tank to lead an organization to a Super Bowl.
Ryan was masterful in both games against the Bucs. In Week 15, he threw for over 350 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks. In Week 17, he tossed another two touchdowns without an interception. Sandwiched in the middle of those games, Ryan was nearly perfect against the Chiefs, throwing for 300 yards and completing 77.1% of his passes. In total, he completed over 70% of his passes for seven touchdowns and no picks in the last three weeks of the season — good for a QB rating of 108.9 against two very competent defenses.
The Falcons are in a peculiar position. They are set to hire a new head coach, hire a new general manager, are owners of the fourth overall pick, and have two aging superstars that could bring back value if they are traded. I wouldn’t blame the next regime for targeting a quarterback in the first round, especially if Zach Wilson or Justin Fields is still available. With that being said, if the goal in 2021 is to win, Ryan still undoubtedly gives the Falcons the best chance to do that. He has plenty left in the tank, and if the new general manager and head coach combination can nail the draft and make the most out of the few bucks they have to spend in free agency, Atlanta could find themselves back in the playoffs just a season after going 4-12.