Matt Ryan is becoming an ‘elite’ QB, Smith says

Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. AP

Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan (2) throws a pass against the Carolina Panthers during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. AP

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons coach Mike Smith believes that fourth-year quarterback Matt Ryan, who became the second quarterback in team history to pass for 4,000 yards in a season, has reached elite status among NFL quarterbacks.

“His maturation process continues to accelerate and he’s becoming, in my mind, one of the elite quarterbacks in this league,” Smith said.

Ryan needs 73 yards passing against Tampa Bay on Sunday to break the franchise’s record for most yards passing in a season.

Ryan, who has passed for 4,071 yards, is set to break the record of Jeff George, who passed for 4,143 yards in 1995.

“That’d be a great honor and an individual honor for Matt,” Smith said. “But again, all those individual honors take a bunch of other guys. There are guys that have got to catch the ball and guys that have got to block. But Matt’s had a very good season.”

Ryan passed for a career-high 373 yards in the 45-16 loss to New Orleans on Monday night. He also tied his career highs with 32 completions and 52 pass attempts.

Ryan already has surpassed George in one category. He has passed for more than 300 yards six times this season, breaking George’s old record of four 300-yard games in 1995.

However, the Falcons are just 2-4 this when Ryan throws for more than 300 yards. He has thrown for more than 300 in wins over Tennessee (316) and Carolina (320) and in losses to Chicago (329), Tampa Bay (330) and New Orleans twice (351 and 373).

Ryan, who went to the Pro Bowl after guiding the Falcons to the NFC South title last season, has completed 339 of 557 passes and is within striking distance of his records of 357 completions and 571 attempts that he set last season.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

Get instant updates on Twitter at AJCFalcons and you can join the Facebook Fan page at AJC Falcons.

124 comments Add your comment

Kashi

December 30th, 2011
12:07 pm

Kashi

December 30th, 2011
12:08 pm

“Elite” quarterback with no playoff WIN.

RonFalcon Fan

December 30th, 2011
12:12 pm

“Elite” status ? Now we know for certain. Mike Smith is in over his head.

Fishwrapper

December 30th, 2011
12:12 pm

First….to not post some stupid comment about Ryan. He is very much growing into one of the elite, it’s just a shame most that post in this blog will be too ignorant to see that.

Veedub

December 30th, 2011
12:17 pm

D. Orlando Ledbetter…… According to the article seems like Smitty said Ryan “is becoming” one of the elite QB’s in the league, not that he is already. Or am I readin something wrong??

Hollywould

December 30th, 2011
12:24 pm

Looks like he said “Is becoming”

Nom Nom Nom Chucks....Taylor or Norris, I don't care

December 30th, 2011
12:25 pm

Elite status by passing Jeff George? Dang, we are in more trouble than I thought. Everybody have fun at the draft this year, with our first pick not coming till July.

Good move on that dmitiy. Still looking for the 6th round gems huh?

Nom Nom Nom Chucks....Taylor or Norris, I don't care

December 30th, 2011
12:26 pm

Actually, yeah you titled this piece incorrectly.

tidog

December 30th, 2011
12:36 pm

Wow it seems as though he’s been in the league longer than four years. I admit the 0 playoff wins is a negative but too have his team in the playoffs 3 out of his 4 years in the league is damn good or elite,

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 30th, 2011
12:38 pm

Nom chucks — I concur. How’s this for the new headline: Matt Ryan is becoming an ‘elite’ QB, Smith says (Ah, much better!)

Mr. Panic Button

December 30th, 2011
12:49 pm

Not with this coaching staff’s conservative, predictable play calling he’s not!

Eric C.

December 30th, 2011
12:52 pm

Let’s hold judgement until after the playoffs

Mr. Panic Button

December 30th, 2011
12:53 pm

And what exactly is Smitty’s definition of “elite”?

Mr. Panic Button

December 30th, 2011
12:54 pm

Eric C. a leopard doesn’t change its spots. If you are expecting something different from this team in the playoffs you’re insane.

mackdad

December 30th, 2011
1:08 pm

becoming is correct….not sure he will ever measure up to a Brady, Manning but he is “becoming” a more complete QB, he reads defenses better now and with the increase in passing yards it does show the OC is looking outside the box (run run run)….I still think Matt will not reach his potential under OC MM but be that as it may he is “becoming” elite but not Brady, Manning elite

Veedub

December 30th, 2011
1:08 pm

D. Orlando Ledbetter.. I was trying to get your attention. That shud have been my props not Nom chucks.. **No respect***.. And you’re welcome!!

Veedub

December 30th, 2011
1:11 pm

D. Led… Why fo come you don’t respond much in your blogs anymo’?

Joe

December 30th, 2011
1:17 pm

All you naysayers check this out. Matt Ryan could be the only QB in the NFL to have TWO 1,000 yard receivers. Smoke on that hate stick.

Mr. Panic Button

December 30th, 2011
1:20 pm

Eric C. I apologize for calling you insane…that’s a bit harsh. But nothing is going to change with this current coaching staff. They are mediocre at best.

mark

December 30th, 2011
1:22 pm

elite?! elite? lol!!!! he dosent have 1 playoff w! its a good player for sure but elite?! you gotta be kidding in here it only shows how crazy is this coaching staff! cant be elite without a playoff w last time i check my book, he hasnt step up his game when it comes delivery time, its a good game manager but thats all, he would never be elite until he can find that killer instincts

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 30th, 2011
1:23 pm

Veedub — Usually, grinding away for the print product in-season.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

December 30th, 2011
1:24 pm

Veedub — Props to you, too!

Veedub

December 30th, 2011
1:25 pm

@Joe… Having two 1,000 yd receivers means nothing if you get bounced out in the first round. Ryan really needs to step up and finish drives and get in these guys a$$e$ and be a more vocal leader. These guys need it!!!! They lack the passion and poise of the truly elite teams.

Veedub

December 30th, 2011
1:29 pm

D Led.. Grind away, jus dont forget about us here. Need to feel ya presence er’y now and then!!… Grind on!!

mark

December 30th, 2011
1:30 pm

hey D LED why you were the only one making questions to ryan on the monday night game vs new orleans there was nobody there? or how it works

Vesaversa

December 30th, 2011
1:47 pm

I’ll cut Matt Ryan some slack because the Falcons offensive line haven’t really protected him much this year.But he need to mature fast i mean this year not next year to make me a believer in this elite BS .A good test would be for Ryan and the ATL. Falcons return to Louisiana for a rematch with them Saints .

Michael M.

December 30th, 2011
1:47 pm

If not elite, he is up there in the top 10 to say the least.

Nique

December 30th, 2011
2:02 pm

Well looking at the #’s the thing that’s truly seperating the elite qb’s Rodgers, Brady, Brees, & usually P Manning in a regular season context is Ryan’s inefficency in the redzone. Ryan is 6th in the league in TD’s, but there’s a huge difference between 45 Brees, 41 Rodgers, 36 Brady & Stafford, then the 27 Ryan has. A HUGE DIFFERENCE! Concerning all of the rest of the #’s Ryan is right there though & for all of those who want to write it off soley on the o-line, Ryan has been sacked 2 more times than Brees, 10 less times than Rodgers, 8 less times than Stafford, & 2 less times than Brady. So that in & of itself isn’t the entire reason for his lack of redzone ineffeciency!

D man

December 30th, 2011
2:06 pm

Ryan is a good QB who will be an elite QB some day soon. I believe that too. :)

Nique

December 30th, 2011
2:18 pm

All that said, i agree with Smith Ryan is BECOMING one of those qb’s he still has 2 very significant hurdles to clear, a playoff victory & becoming more efficent in the redzone. He’s also about to get labled as a qb who inconsistant on the road in a minute if he doesn’t turn it around soon though. Although he started his career well in the department 4-4 on the road this year isn’t elite.

Die Hard Falcon

December 30th, 2011
2:37 pm

It all depends on how “Elite” is defined. Matty Ice is a top 10 QB playing right now in my opinion. I think most people consider the top 5 QB’s as being elite, in which case he wouldn’t be there…yet. I believe as many stated, he’s on his way. While he might not have been sacked much compared to others mentioned above, that’s b/c he has to get rid of the ball, if you watch Brady & Brees especially, they have ALL DAY to pass most of the time and if Ryan had that much time, I’ll bet the house he’d be closer to 4500 yds and have less picks & more TD’s w/ a higher completion %. Sacks aren’t the only way to determine if a QB gets adequate protection, he is towards the top in the league in most times hit and/or hurried.

Die Hard Falcon

December 30th, 2011
2:42 pm

As a side note, I will say that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get the protection any better the Matt this year, but he’s very mobile and as much as I despise the him & the pack, they’re very good and have a great scheme.
I think if you put Brees, Brady, and Rodgers (I think everyone’s top 3 this year)w/ our protection and scheme, they’d all be much less successful. MR2 in the aints scheme and protection would be elite I’ll bet. Of course this is all conjecture and I wouldn’t want Matty to go anywhere else, I just hope we can bring a better scheme and get better protection for him soon.

Wendell

December 30th, 2011
2:48 pm

Send CVIV to Winnipeg.

SeenThisBFalcon

December 30th, 2011
2:54 pm

SAINT’S WILL LOSE IN THE 1ST RD OF THE PLAYOFFS!!!

Sterling

December 30th, 2011
2:57 pm

I love you falcon fans. You guys really know how to support your team. smh

Joe

December 30th, 2011
3:04 pm

Ryan has NO O-line and has still passed for over 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. Only 12 picks. He knows how to take care of the football. Everyone needs to acknowledge the fact that he’s a top 10 QB. That means he’s elite. Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl but he’s in the HOF. See? Ryan will get his first playoff win this season, and it’ll be against the team that we love to hate. New Orleans in the 1st round. Watch.

IKillTrollsAllDay

December 30th, 2011
3:08 pm

Matt Ryan is elite. The Oline. No! Turner has not been the same since Mughelli went down. Which affects protection for the QB and the running backs. Damn I miss that guy. He’s also a great offensive threat as a power back to compliment Turner and Snelling.

realitycheck

December 30th, 2011
3:13 pm

Probably top ten between the 20’s…….Red zone-fair at best……..Playoffs and winning big games-poor…….Elite?-not anywhere close!

BIG MIKE

December 30th, 2011
3:15 pm

Just think what his stats would be if he had receivers (Gonzalas not withstanding) that can actually hold on to the ball when it hits them in the hands (chest, head, etc) and a line that can hold off a three man rush.

Decatur Falcons

December 30th, 2011
3:16 pm

Matt Ryan is becoming a good quarterback, if you give him time to throw the ball. OC has to know his quarterback strenghts and weakness in the game. Matt Ryan can make all the throws, but the deep ball example Houston Texans. Matt Ryan need to stop playing in the weight room get some muscles in his arms. We have Julio Jones not on IR Micheal Jenkins. The NFL is a cruel sport, and it is hard to win games especially Playoff games on road. OC has develope a scheme that make Matt Ryan look good out on the field. Which means everyone on Offense have to do they job: block, running 5 or more years a carry, catch the football, getting separtation from the defense, and getting first downs. That what wins you games and Playoff games on Offense, and if the OC can create that for Matt Ryan on Sunday than Sport Center and others will call him an elite quaterback in the NFL. GO FALCONS!!!!

BIG MIKE

December 30th, 2011
3:16 pm

He would “WALK THE DOG” in New Orleans. As good as people think Brees is, he’s better. Give him Brees’s supporting cast and the rolls are reversed.

realitycheck

December 30th, 2011
3:23 pm

The guy threw for a bunch of yards between the 20’s and produced 1 TD in a 29 pt loss. That sounds exactly like a game that elite QB’s have since they are always getting beat 29 pts. LOL!!

Jborodawg

December 30th, 2011
3:23 pm

“Becoming” elite, maybe. Manning, Brees, Brady, Big Ben are elite. Matty Ice isn’t quite there yet. Big Mike, you’re right, “a line that can hold off a” four man rush actually. That’s all NO did all game and they still got thru. That, and no running game does tend to lean toward the O-line not doing their job.

While I’m at it, why call plays at all from the sidelines or booth when Ryan is going to change it at the line every time?

Falcons4Eva

December 30th, 2011
3:26 pm

Guess What Coach Smith……..

Matt Ryan would ALREADY BE AN ELITE QUARTERBACK if not for you and this staff ! !

Sean Payton and the great offensive mind that he as and gift for call plays MADE DREW BREES the quarterback he is today.

Matt has the necessary skill sets to become an elite quarterback if put in the right builder!

Falcons4Eva

December 30th, 2011
3:29 pm

Corrections: “If put in the hands of the right builder (i.e. Sean Payton), Matt Ryan would already be considers a Elite Quarterback. Its all about putting your players in the right position to make plays and bring out the best in them.

If Mike Mularkey and Mike Smith would just get out of Matt Ryan’s way, the kid would be better off,

BIG MIKE

December 30th, 2011
3:29 pm

Four man rush was all New Orleans did, but I saw them fail to hold off a three man rush against a team I don’t recollect right now, but I do remember my disgust. With Mughalli out it’s even worse. He was their best back at picking up the blitz from anywhere on the field.

steeler4eva

December 30th, 2011
3:32 pm

Yeah elite, just like Tony Romo!!!!

realitycheck

December 30th, 2011
3:32 pm

Dreamers can keep dreaming and they’ll be on here 4 or 5 years from now without even sniffing a SB shot. Falcons aren’t winning anything with this QB or regime that’s in place now. How quickly so many seem to forget what happened 90 or so hours ago in NO.

Tell it like it is.

December 30th, 2011
3:32 pm

Matt Ryan needs a supporting cast in the red zone,when defences pin back thier ears ,and come after him,he needs pass blocking,and people to catch the ball,excludeing Gonzalis,then he will become elete in the NFL.

Sean

December 30th, 2011
3:44 pm

To the people that say Matt Ryan has no o-line. Do you realize he’s been sacked less than Rodgers, Romo, Big Ben, Stafford and only twice more than Brees? The difference is some QB’s have a knack for finding the open reciever down field. Ryan has a tendency to check down and make the “safe” throw.