Matt Ryan: The absolute right man at the absolute right time

Matty Ice showed up, and everything around him changed. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Matty Ice showed up, and everything around him changed. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind you of what you already know. On Sunday I was talking with Charles Chandler of the Charlotte Observer, and he said, “It’s amazing what these guys have done.”

He meant the Falcons, and it is. And we around here saw it firsthand last season, the rise to 11-5 one year after the agony and indignity of Petrino/Vick. And now we watch as the Falcons head to Foxborough 2-0 and only a 4 1/2-point underdog against the gold standard of professional football, and we dare to ask: Might they win?

And about now, we should take three steps back and try to see the landscape, as opposed, say, to the hair on Michael Turner’s chinny-chin-chin. We should take a moment to reflect, not for the first time but maybe for the first time in a while, just what has transpired.

In the span of two offseasons, a franchise has gone from being both mocked and pitied to being hailed as a new paradigm. It has happened for many reasons, from the celebrated (Dimitroff, Smitty, Turner, Gonzo) to the subtle (Lofton) to the hidden (O-line coach Paul Boudreau). But mostly it has happened because of Matt Ryan.

Had Thomas Dimitroff taken Glenn Dorsey with the third pick of Round 1 on April 26, 2008, it wouldn’t have rendered the “process” less valid or made Mike Smith as phony as Jerry Glanville. But Ryan made it all work, and he made it work overnight. More than just the right pick, he was the right pick at the right moment.

Michael Vick exited Flowery Branch and the whole operation collapsed. Matty Ice showed up and everyone began to believe anew. It wasn’t because he made any campaign promises. (Like Smitty, Ryan is a smart guy who works hard not to say too much. And if you’ve seen his AirTran spot, you know he’s no Al Pacino.) He made people believe because there’s something about Matty that has that effect on people.

It was once said of Joey Harrington — a Falcon quarterback in the lost season of 2007, lest we forget — that he’d step into a huddle and 10 other guys would want to step out. When Ryan steps in the huddle, those other 10 see him and think, “Hey, we’ve got a chance.” Lots of successful sports people write books on leadership. Ryan is the living text.

Be honest. Did you think Matt Ryan would be this good?

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Say Dimitroff had waited a year to take his quarterback. Nobody in this draft — not Matthew Stafford, not even Mark Sanchez — would have had the restorative effect on a woebegone team and a fractured fan base that Ryan has had here. And without Ryan playing for the Falcons in 2008, none of us would have had cause to believe so completely in the process. Because with Chris Redman at quarterback, the 2008 Falcons would have gone 5-11.

Joe Flacco, taken in Round 1 of the same draft, slipped into Baltimore and made a decent team better, but Joe Flacco could not have made a bad team believe. Ryan did that by showing up and working hard and respecting his elders — he spent $10,000 to install a new stereo system in the locker room — and hanging tough in Week 2 last season in Tampa, and he did it by not being afraid to be The Man Who Followed Michael Vick.

To this day, all Ryan has said about his predecessor as face-of-the-franchise is this: “I’m not Mike Vick; I can’t be Mike Vick.” But the Falcons didn’t need another No. 7. They needed a guy who wanted to be here, who wanted to take the ball and this team and see where he could lead it. And every week he proves to be even better than we thought he was.

Nineteen months ago he left Boston and a lot of folks deemed him another Falcons mistake. This weekend he returns to New England as the league’s fourth-ranked passer, as field commander of one of the NFL’s nine unbeaten teams. This up-from-desolation saga is being written because a lot of bright people keep doing inspired work. The most inspirational of all wears No. 2.

226 comments Add your comment

tixholdersince66

September 24th, 2009
10:32 am

Hollywould

September 24th, 2009
10:33 am

Nice piece Mark, I don’t know if the Falcons have been lucky, smart, or shrewed. I will take all three and keep the faith. It has been a long time since I felt we have a chance to win every game. STHolder since ‘92. Go Falcons

Falconsforlife

September 24th, 2009
10:34 am

Ryan is amazing. We are lucky to have him.

It’s nice finally having a true qb with an amazing work ethic, poise, confidence, leadership, and accuracy. Matty Ice represents this city well. We’re in for a hell of a ride.

SUPER MAN IS BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

September 24th, 2009
10:41 am

Eagles have “extensive” package of plays for Vick

Posted by Mike Florio on September 24, 2009 7:35 AM ET

As Eagles quarterback Mike Vick prepares to make his official return to football for the first time since December 2006, ESPN’s Sal Paolatonio reports that the team is working on an “extensive” package of plays for the man who spent the last two football seasons doing something other than playing football.

The package, per Paolantonio, consists of shotgun and Wildcat formations.

Regarding coach Andy Reid’s coy approach to Vick’s status on Sunday, Paolantonio was blunt.

“Don’t believe it,” Paolantonio said during a SportsCenter segment. “Too much time and emotion has been invested by Vick, this franchise, and this city to get Vick to this point and not have him play.”

So of the four quarterbacks on the Philly roster, Vick is the only one whose name can be added in ink to the list of guys the Chiefs can expect to see. As to Donovan McNabb (rib), Kevin Kolb, and Jeff Garcia, Kansas City can’t rule out any of them, and thus must prepare for each of them.

Vick Supporter

September 24th, 2009
10:43 am

All you haters on here think you are so smart. I am better educated, more intelligent, better looking, in better physical condition and make more money than all of you ignorant rednecks on this blog combined. I make over $70,000 a year as a Systems Analyst for Crisco.

I can make my own hours and get to call my own shots while of you pathetic people blog on here before rushing off for your shift at McDonald’s in your rusty used cars. None of you ignorant haters will disrespect me the way you have done Vick.

You all are jealous that I can buy a Vick jersey for every team in the NFL with just the change I have in my pocket… and still get front row tickets to a game in any city.

December 6th is the day…………

The Great Mike Vick Has Returned.

Ryno

September 24th, 2009
10:47 am

but Joe Flacco could not have made a bad team believe.

Thank you for saying this. It’s easy to assume Flacco had a better year because his team advanced farther – but if the roles were switched – does Flacco contribute to an 11 win season in Atlanta?

Almost certainly not.

Chet

September 24th, 2009
10:48 am

As a Native New Englander and Patriot fan I’m pulling for the Falcons this week. They are a hard working group without the flashy “its all about me” players. Kudos to the Falcons management and coaching staff.

Hollywould

September 24th, 2009
10:50 am

Is Vick gonna play for every team now? Might as well for all the fumbles and interceptions, not studying, not practicing. Maybe there is a Vick jersey for every team. He sure helped them out.
Dam, some people are just stupid.

F-105 Thunderchief

September 24th, 2009
10:52 am

Just think, we could be watching Dorsey limping around and Andre Woodson carrying a clipboard if blog readers ran the Falcons. Thank heavens they don’t.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
10:54 am

Ryno

What Joe Flacco does not have to work with:

-NO Pro bowl back

-NO Pro bowl receiver

-NO Pro bowl & Hall of Fame tight end

Any time a quarterback can out perform a qb who has much more to work with offensively, that means he is an OVER ACHIEVER and the one who accomplishes LESS with so much MORE is plain and simple……….

A BUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ostrich Racer

September 24th, 2009
10:56 am

Remarkable, what leadership can accomplish. Ryan makes everyone around him better.
(VS — What kind of systems does Crisco analyze?)

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 24th, 2009
10:58 am

Ryan is a smart guy who works hard not to say too much

If only more people in professional sports were like that.

AZ Jacket

September 24th, 2009
11:02 am

Hey Vick Support, Is Crisco that lard company. Did not know they needed System Analyst? Now if you are a system analyst for Cisco, the networking company, you are under paid. I have 3 system analyst working for me and they make over $1k a year. Of course two of them have Masters degrees. What the he(double hockey sticks) does that have to do with Vick? No one disrespected Vick except Vick himself. He committed the crime so he did the time.

Greg from Marietta

September 24th, 2009
11:03 am

Mark, This has to be one of the very best articles that you have ever written. If you look back on the events that led up to the selection of Matt Ryan it is almost like fate deemed it to happen. In a way we owe Mike Vick & Bobby Patrino a debt of gratitude for being the misfits that they turned out to be.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:04 am

Hollywould

September 24th, 2009
10:50 am
Is Vick gonna play for every team now? Might as well for all the fumbles and interceptions, not studying, not practicing. Maybe there is a Vick jersey for every team. He sure helped them out.
Dam, some people are just stupid.

Are you aware that you are self-promoting Vick?

Vick has a 38-28-1 career record

3 Pro bowls

Runner up to the MVP at age (22)

Led team to (ONLY) Championship game appearance since 1997

As remarkable as that is alone, now think about what he confessed while playing for the Falcons:

Last player to report to practice

First to leave practice

Didn’t view film

Was lazy

If he can accomplished all those “FACTS” stats mentioned above, what does that say for the quarterbacks that were not lazy and viewed film?

They are pretty pathetic, because how can a guy accomplish so much while not even working at it?

Maybe he didn’t work hard or review film because he is JUST THAT GOOD.

or……………

He knew he would not receive any credit so why bother to work hard.

Now all of a sudden his NEW teammates and coaches are saying what a dedicated hard worker he is now. Maybe that has something to do with he is finally on a team that has REAL TALENT & COACHES who don’t have their heads between their legs.

So I say to you and others like you – continue the SELF PROMOTION :)

AZ Jacket

September 24th, 2009
11:05 am

BAD NEWS, you are an idiot. Plan and simple. Flacco is a good fit for the Ravens but he would not have done what Ryan did in Atlanta. The Ravens were winning prior to him arriving because the defense carried them. The team was not in the tank becaue their past QB was a felon and their Coach did not slip out in the middle of the night.

It's me

September 24th, 2009
11:09 am

What Slack-o did have Bad Spews was an all Pro-Defence. Good thing for him or they would have not even sniffed the play-offs.

Speaking of sniffing Bad Spews. How does Vick butthole smell? You’ve had your nose up it for awhile now.

AZ Jacket

September 24th, 2009
11:09 am

Bad News, your stats are good but your resoning sucks. Yes he had all of that and threw it away. He committed a felony and was convicted. He lied to the Falcons and the league. He took millions from the Falcons and then trashed them. Maybe he deserves a second chance but not in Atlanta….we don’t need him.

Concrete Blonde Quarterback Michael Vick

September 24th, 2009
11:09 am

[...] Matt Ryan: The absolute right man at the absolute right time … [...]

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:09 am

I have said this over and over………….should have drafted Joe Flacco :)

Flacco wins with much less………….

NOODLE ARM chokes with MUCH MORE :)

But you Falcons fans are made for one another…………LOSERS :)

keep it real

September 24th, 2009
11:11 am

Bad News (previously known as Vick Supporter 2),
Your rhetoric is getting old.
We get it, Flacco is a far more superior quarterback than Mike Vick.
I agree.

It's me

September 24th, 2009
11:11 am

Bad Spews….why don’t you ever mentions Vick’s last two years in Atlanta? YOU FREAKEN MORON!!! YOU HAVE NO DA** CASE. YOU KNOW IT, WE ALL KNOW IT!

Ryno

September 24th, 2009
11:13 am

Bad News – you and I aren’t aren’t that far apart and I’m not here to incite argument.

My point was that Baltimore needed a strong quarterback to not make mistakes and to make the occasional long throws – they got one in Flacco. But their leadership is still with Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and the defense. Can you really argue that Flacco is the leader of the Ravens?

The Falcons needed their leader to come from the offense. With so much turnover at QB in 2007 and 2008, stability and leadership had to come from under center. Everyone (even his teammates) say that Matt Ryan is the leader of the Falcons.

Two teams that needed two different things and both got what they were looking for. Different strokes for Different folks is all I’m saying.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:13 am

I have a question………..

If NOODLE ARM………….

-Didn’t watch films

-Was lazy

-Late to practice

-First to leave practice

What would have been his accomplishments?

I mean going 1 AND DONE is pretty LAME considering the previous qb didn’t watch film and was lazy, yet won playoff games :)

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:20 am

Ryno

Again I have to correct you, and I will use your own logic:

NOODLE ARM was and is not the leader of the team…..

if you recall, last season when he stunk up the place even more than usual, Lawyer Milloy put his foot in his butt on National Television for making the team look bad – I think you remember that……..

Fast forward to this season, there is no doubt that Peterson is the leader of this team……….NO DOUBT!

hatfieldgeoff

September 24th, 2009
11:22 am

Hey Vick Supporter (AKA Jock sniffer) – Relax, glad you made it to the middle-class, but do you work for CISCO or Crisco. If its Cisco you ought to know how to spell it. If its Crisco, you better hope all the people you are belittling keep frying your chicken mcnuggets so you can keep your job. And by the way, do you realize the Eagles package of plays, is just reaffirming that Vick is indeed just an Athletic/Running QB. And that is what most of his detractors have said he was from the beginning. Also, you may want to get a trailer four your, no-doubt, expensive automobile. It can carry that inferiority complex of yours.

P.S. if your are carrying that much change you might want to get a bank card.

Have nice day.

UGA ALL THE WAY

September 24th, 2009
11:24 am

Mark… Great article man. VICK WHO?? Thats all i gotta say. The Falcons have come a long way and they have worked REALLY hard to get where they are.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:25 am

dl

September 24th, 2009
11:26 am

BadNews-You are nasty.

What..

September 24th, 2009
11:29 am

Vicks last two years proves that Vick’s…..

lazyness
lack of watching film
last to show up for practice
first to leave practice
unwilling to work with receivers, that he was a useless runningback with a QB number on his chest, who NEVER HAD A COMEBACK FROM BEHIND 4TH QUARTER WIN!!! He is what he was which is basicly nothing better than a 4th string QB who can’t even run the wildcat…proved that in the pre-season.

Big Skee

September 24th, 2009
11:30 am

I can barely stand reading these blogs anymore. I swear sometimes free speech is entirely overrated.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:30 am

Joe Flacco Steps Breaks Out, Becomes First Rook Two-Game Playoff Winner

Posted Jan 10, 2009 8:00PM By Will Brinson (RSS feed)

Filed Under: Ravens, Titans, NFL Playoffs
Email Print ShareText SizeAAA

Joe Flacco just did something no quarterback in the history of the NFL has ever done: win two playoff football games in his rookie year. That’s what makes him the greatest rookie signal-caller ever

“END OF CONVERSATION”……..Don’t you just hate FACTS :)

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

September 24th, 2009
11:31 am

Mark very good, hate it turned into a Vic-off. Tired of the subject. As for Ryan, if he were with Baltimore, I venture to say they would have made it to the Super Bowl. As for the Vick debate, everyone had a shot at him and only one team wanted him. Put Ryan on the market and see how many teams want him. I bet all but maybe one, Indy and maybe even them because of the age deal. Because Ryan is so much younger than all the top QB’s, their teams would trade straight up today for Ryan. Philly would trade all 10 of their QB’s.

David Smith

September 24th, 2009
11:34 am

I didn’t initially want the Falcons to draft Matt Ryan because I felt we needed to address our Offensive and Defensive line. Matt quickly won me over with his poise in the pocket, accurate arm, and true to his nickname an unflappable attitude in the most tense situations (Chicago anyone?). Matt is also very humble with his success and works harder than some of the more seasoned veterans (As he showed up at Flowery Branch the day after the loss against the Cardinals to watch film on how he could improve his technique). I loved Vick when he was here and, glad that he is getting another chance to play again but, he never showed that type of dedication to take his team to the next level.

What..

September 24th, 2009
11:34 am

Falons win sunday. That’s all that matters.

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 24th, 2009
11:38 am

I’m guessing there are quite a few QB’s in the league who wish they could throw as well as “ol’ Noodle Arm”.

Tru Falcon fan

September 24th, 2009
11:40 am

Bad News is just some Douce on here trying to get a rise out of the bloggers anybody with eyes who watches the game knows about Ryan’s talent and leadership. Give me noodle arm any day over Vick or Flacco. Peterson is the leader of the defence and Ryan is the leader of the offense. Its team Leaders. Plural. Now bad news enjoy the rest of the week off because school starts back Monday.

DandyD

September 24th, 2009
11:42 am

To: Vick Supporter.

Too bad 70K a year isn’t enough to buy you a brain, you unmitigated idiot. Go back and crawl back into the swamp you came from. As for me and about a million others…I’ll put my $ on the Ryan Express.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:42 am

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

“ONCE AGAIN SPREADING LIES”

In the real world we deal with facts and not fabrication and distorting the truth….I’m sure FOX NEWS has an opening…..below is a fact check…..

Not only did Vick have plenty of suitors, he actually turned down teams and selected the Eagles. One of the teams turned down were the Bengals, apparently the golden boy Palmer was not getting the job done:

Source: Five teams interested in Vick

Views 93417 Comments 404 08:25 AM ET 08.11 Share Print It My T&R

A source familiar with Michael Vick’s deliberations with NFL teams said Monday morning that at least five clubs are interested in Vick. That comes after former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, an adviser to Vick, said Sunday night on NBC that Vick could sign with a team soon. Sources also said Monday that the NFL Players Association has no suspicions that the league’s franchise owners are colluding to keep Vick from returning to the league.

Washington Post

George Holman

September 24th, 2009
11:43 am

Chill

September 24th, 2009
11:43 am

I was behind Mike Vick when he was our quarterback but the homie Matt Ryan has proven to me that he’s more than the real deal. He’s one of those “Special” Quarterbacks that come along once every ten years or so. As a Falcon’s fan(emphasis on Falcon’s) I never felt more confident in our QB. Matt never ask to be here and all he’s done since day one is delivered in the long shadow of our former Qb. That really makes what he’s doing even more special and honestly unprecedented. I stand behind Matt Ryan 100%. Like T.O said….”That’s my Quarterback”. The other dude is Old news….

Ryno

September 24th, 2009
11:44 am

Bad News

Fair enough sir. No doubt the Peterson pickup was a big one for the Falcons. I’m assuming then that you consider Turner the leader of the offense if not Matt Ryan. A fair guess since he had one of the best rushing years ever by a Falcon RB.

Clearly you’ve read alot about Flacco. Has his Raven’s teammates come out and praised his leadership skills? I’m not challanging your point – but if you could share some links or quotes – I’d love to read them.

Thanks.

midnite

September 24th, 2009
11:44 am

@Bad News
I see school is out again today. Have you killed anymore dogs like you were bragging about recently. You must not have seen your idol’s preseason stats. Oh yeah, he still sucks like he has since 2nd half of 2005. You know drop back 20 yds. with the ball stuck out in mid-air and fumbles inside HIS OWN 5 yd.line. Now run along little fella.

Tallcarl

September 24th, 2009
11:49 am

You Vick lovers will always live in the past. You will always be loosers and could-have beens. Vick was treated like a Star but acted like a thugg. IF you didn’t make me so mad I would feel sorry foR you. You need counciling and like MV you need a short chain so the poison you spew will not affect others. Michael Vick will never win a championship because he is lazy, a lousey leader and STUPID. Yes, I said never and I said stupid. Now get a life and SHUT UP.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:51 am

NOODLE ARM is not a winner, far from it!

When a team’s defense gives you 4 turnovers and you only score 19 points, that is PATHETIC!

Then that same team gives up over 308 yards in the air in just 15 MINUTES the whole game…..I think facts speaks for itsel, but you idiots are too blind and trying so hard to justify NOODLE ARM as the right pick.

How many 300 yard games does he have this season? Flacco has one, but then again Flacco is a playoff winner – that is obvious :)

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
11:55 am

midnite

It’s funny you keep mentioning worthless dogs :) But since you insist in keeping this useless conversation about the most worthless species in the wild life, if one more dog ends up under my tires, I’m going to file a complaint against you sir :)

Mark Bradley

September 24th, 2009
11:55 am

Matt Ryan is 13-5 as a pro quarterback. I’d say that meets the utter definition of “winner.”

What's Important

September 24th, 2009
12:00 pm

Bad News, you just can’t stick with the facts. In the first year for both Ryan and Flacco, which is the subject of this blog, Matt Ryan did not have a Hall of Fame tight end and Roddy White was not a pro bowl receiver (or even close) until Matt Ryan came into the picture. All this relates back to your your hatred of Matt Ryan because of the issues with Michael Vick. If you only cared about the Falcons because of Vick you no longer have a need to be on this blog. Jump on a Philly blog and get all the Mike Vick talk you crave. Myself, I’ve had enough.

bamaguy

September 24th, 2009
12:03 pm

Enter your comments here
The saddest part is that vicksupporter thinks $70,000 is a lot of money. That won’t buy you a garage in Buckhead.

Bad News

September 24th, 2009
12:06 pm

MARK MARK MARK

Give me a playoff win before you start throwing around the “winner” tag:)

If that’s the case Kyle Orton is a bigger winner :)