Falcons need to protect Matt Ryan to maximize his final years

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Passing on a successor for Matt Ryan in the 2021 NFL draft combined with his most recent contract restructure makes his future in Atlanta pretty stable. The Falcons believe Ryan is the answer, at least for a couple of more seasons. A couple of months ago, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that the Falcons would be comfortable with Ryan as their quarterback past 2021.

[Matt Ryan] has told multiple people close to him, in and around the Falcons, that he feels he has several good years left, that he can still play at a high level. So, the Falcons did extensive homework on Trey Lance and the other quarterbacks that they considered with the fourth overall pick. But they believe, and they’re totally comfortable rolling with Matt Ryan for this year, possibly longer. They feel they have weapons, Kyle Pitts now, a quarterback-friendly system with new coach Arthur Smith and it should be an improved defense. So, this is a team they feel they’ll be on the rise and Ryan will be better-positioned to have more success.

Arthur Smith will be the reason Ryan finishes his career in Atlanta because, with his run-heavy scheme, his quarterbacks generally take fewer hits as the defense is less keen on the offensive strategy given the balance of the system. Not only does he get hit a lot, but Ryan gets hit more than any other quarterback in the league.


Arthur Smith remains adamant about winning in the trenches, “Obviously, we’re going to go as the line goes.” The driver of success in Tennessee and failure in Atlanta the past couple of seasons was offensive line play, as it will continue to be in 2021.

Matt Ryan has been sacked 42, 48, and 41 times, respectively, over the past three seasons. He faced 174 pressures in 2019 (28th in the league) and 167 pressures in 2020 (24th in the league). This can all be attributed to poor offensive line play, poor scheming, and Ryan potentially holding the ball too long. If the Falcons want to succeed immediately with this new-look offense, Arthur Smith and the offensive line will have to keep Ryan upright.

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