Uh-uh. No way. Not going to happen. It’s impossible. Those are just some of the phrases that will pop in the heads of football fans when they see the title of this article, and they have good reason to do so. Matt Ryan is the unquestioned leader of the Atlanta Falcons franchise. He hasn’t missed the playoffs since 2009. He’s coming off his best statistical season as a pro and got his team within a few yards of the Super Bowl. Why in the world would the Falcons let him go? Granted, it does go against common sense, so here it goes.
Falcons must ask the hard questions on Ryan and Mike Smith
Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith deserve all the credit in the world. They inherited a team stuck in the doldrums of the Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino fiascoes and didn’t waste time turning Atlanta into a consistent playoff contender. Ryan comes off his best season yet, throwing for over 4,700 yards and 32 touchdowns and winning the first playoff game for the franchise since 2002. That said, there are some hard questions to ask that nobody wants to acknowledge. For all his regular season success, Ryan continues to come up short in the playoffs. Including that win against the Seahawks he is now 1-4 lifetime in postseason play with 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Like it or not, he also showed a bad tendency last season to lose his composure after fast starts. Both the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers erased large Atlanta leads. Ryan narrowly avoided the first defeat but came up short and hurt against San Francisco. With him turning 29 next year are the Falcons prepared to pay franchise quarterback money to that kind of player?
Current signs say yes but another playoff failure might change a lot of minds.
Rob Chudzinski content with Brandon Weeden or Jason Campbell for now
Looking ahead the Cleveland Browns stand among the teams that could have heavy interest in Ryan if he did depart Atlanta. At present there is little else than questions for the Browns at quarterback. Head coach Rob Chudzinski seems content to let 2012 first round pick Brandon Weeden battle veteran Jason Campbell for the job. Whether he sees either of them as long-term answers is something else. Weeden is only in his second season and is already 30-years old. Campbell is 31 and playing for his fourth team. Chudzinki must have higher goals in mind than what those two players can give him. Given his affinity for maximizing quarterbacks, like he did with Cam Newton, Philip Rivers and Derek Anderson, looking for an upgrade in 2014 isn’t a bad start. Matt Ryan may not offer championship answers, but his experience, younger body and success in the regular season is something for Browns fans to get behind. If anything else that would be a big step in the right direction.