ESPN confirms it: Matt Ryan isn’t the King of the Deep (Pass)

"Go long! I'll hit you -- or maybe I won't." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"Hey, go long! I'll hit you -- or maybe I won't." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

For all of you who have said, “Matt Ryan doesn’t throw the deep ball very well” … well, you’re right. Peter Keating of ESPN Insider has compiled lists of the NFL’s best and worst deep passers, and the Falcons’ quarterback is among the latter. (Link requires registration.)

Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, you’ll be not at all shocked to learn, is the league’s best on deep throws, which Keating defines as a pass of 20 or more yards. Rodgers averages 29.5 yards per deep-pass-attempt. Ryan averages a paltry 7.1 yards, which kind of defeats the purpose of a deep pass.

Keating’s numbers show that Ryan’s quarterback rating on deep balls places him fifth-lowest among NFL passers. The bottom four: Mark Sanchez, Jets; John Beck, Washington; Donovan McNabb, Minnesota and Curtis Painter, Indianapolis. Ryan’s quarterback rating on deep passes is 43.1, which pales alongside his mediocre rating of 83.0 on all passes.

But for all of those who are saying, “A former Falcons’ quarterback was great on deep passes” … if you’re talking about Michael Vick, you’re wrong. Vick ranks only one spot ahead of Ryan in Keating’s table, and he hasn’t completed a deep pass for a touchdown this season. (Ryan has completed one — the amazing Julio Jones dive-between-defenders at Indy.) Writes Keating:

Michael Vick … is bombing away even more frequently than he did last year but has lost his magic touch to DeSean Jackson. Overall, he is killing the Eagles on long pass attempts, where he is just 9-of-34 for 10.1 yards per attempt, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

And now you’re asking: Does it matter if your quarterback can’t throw long with any success? Of Keating’s top 10 deep passers, eight preside over teams with winning records. Of the 10 lowest-ranked deep passers, only one plays for a winning team — Matt Ryan. This would seem to indicate that the Falcons are doing it the hard way.

By Mark Bradley

533 comments Add your comment

Bigb

November 17th, 2011
7:43 am

Mark Bradley

November 17th, 2011
7:59 am

Kudos, Bigb.

cousin vicker

November 17th, 2011
8:03 am

When do we accept that Matt Ryan is not going to be the long term answer at QB? There has to be concern within the Falcons brass… he has regressed since his rookie year.

Eric

November 17th, 2011
8:07 am

Matty Ice… Great game manager! Isn’t that all that matters?!?!

perk

November 17th, 2011
8:09 am

Bartkowski was the best I ever saw at the long pass. It just looks like Ryan doesn’t have the arm strength to heave it 50 yards+. Still hurtin over a non-QB sneak on 4th and 1/100th of a foot.

cvow19

November 17th, 2011
8:10 am

Mark, why does it take this long to put any blame on Matt Ryan?? Can someone please tell me when this guy was ever THAT GOOD. The reason the falcons offense is underachieving is because of our QB. Can you imagine what Phillip Rivers would do with these guys? Matt Ryan DOESN’T throw the ball down the field not because Mularky doesn’t call the plays. It is because he can’t. How many times have you ever seen the camera pan to the two receivers streaking down the field that Matt Ryan didn’t even look at. How many games are we gonna watch ryan throw 47 seven yard out routes and 20 five yard curls before we say this guy is mediocre AT BEST. Your thoughts Mr. Bradley?

Paul in NH

November 17th, 2011
8:12 am

There is more to being a successful QB than arm strength – Jeff George had a much stronger arm than Joe Montana. Having said that, in today’s NFL which has even more emphasis on passing than in the past, you need the deep threat.

GHG

November 17th, 2011
8:12 am

Arron R throws bullets. Ryan lobs the ball out there. That’s the difference. Even Flacco can throw it deep.

Andrew

November 17th, 2011
8:13 am

So this is based on half a season’s worth of attempts of 20 yards or more? I’m no statistician, but that seems like a heck of a small sample size to be branding a man a failure. Unless they make some attempt to bring career numbers into it.

Eric

November 17th, 2011
8:15 am

andrew, obviously you don’t watch the games. no one needed to see an espn article on throwing the deep ball to know that matt ryan can’t.

Chris

November 17th, 2011
8:16 am

Ryan doesn’t have the strength. Look at his arms. Remember the game against bc when he threw the pass at the end to win. It was only like 45 yards went way up in the air and had to zip to it. He needs to work on his arm strength badly.

Matt Who?

November 17th, 2011
8:23 am

With all the assets that Matt Ryan has around him, the Falcons should have at least 8 or 9 wins this season. This just goes to show you that Matt Ryan is overrated. Looks like it may be time to find the next franchise quarterback.

Eric

November 17th, 2011
8:23 am

Catches by game:
Julio Jones: 5, 2, 6, 11, 1, 3, 2 (30 total in 7 games played)
Roddy White: 8, 3, 9, 6, 6, 2, 5, 4, 4 (47 total in 9 games played)

We trade our entire draft for Julio Jones, and for some reason we can’t get the ball to him. And as for our pro bowler Roddy White… doesn’t seem like Matty can get him the ball either.

Jeffro Bodeen

November 17th, 2011
8:23 am

He is what he is….a skinny, weak armed, white boy, QB who has all the brains and none of the brawn to complement it. ATL will never be a serious year in and year out contender while he is there. They will be competitive, but no real threat to win it all.

Mark Bradley

November 17th, 2011
8:23 am

You know who also threw a great deep pass? Chris Chandler.

DP

November 17th, 2011
8:24 am

Agree that Ryan has regressed, particularly throwing the deep ball. It looks like he’s become the modern day version of Bernie Kosar, understands the game and is always well prepared, but will never be an elite QB because of a lack of arm strength. Getting a replacement QB who’s better in the next 2-3 years looks unlikely given the Falcons lack of draft picks; teams with QBs better than Ryan aren’t giving them up. If I were Smith/Mularkey I’d play to what Ryan can do by incorporating more slant and crossing patterns designed to get Jones and White the ball on the run and get some big plays that way, as with the slant pass to Julio that went for 80 against Indy, i.e. the West Coast offense like Montana ran with the 49ers and Warner ran with the Rams. Unfortunately Ryan isn’t as accurate as either of those guys on short and intermediate routes, but he’s better on them than he is with the deep ball. Between the lousy pass protection from the offensive line and Ryan’s inaccuracy, the attempts to throw deep are creating too many negative plays.

dean

November 17th, 2011
8:24 am

Ok. Ryan isn’t the best deep passer in the league. Even with that, ATL should have won on Sunday.

willie

November 17th, 2011
8:24 am

Very interesting information. It proves what we have thought all along. He just doesn’t have the arm strength that most of the top QBs have (Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Big Ben, etc.). This tells me that while he can be a solid QB, which he is, he cannot be a great one. Unless your defense is spectacular (which ours is not), it is impossible to win it all without a great QB, in my opinion.

Mark Bradley

November 17th, 2011
8:25 am

Nine wins this season would mean the Falcons would be undefeated — and the Packers wouldn’t.

heartofdarkness

November 17th, 2011
8:25 am

You might conclude that teams near the top focus on creating breakdowns in defensive pass coverage through forcing a defender to commit to stopping receiver A, only to insert receiver B into the area left undefended by that decision. Before the streak of completions to Harry Douglas at the end of the Saint’s game, that aspect of breaking down a defense has not been so apparent in the Falcon’s attack. Also, in last week’s Giant’s game, there was a great deal of chemistry between receiver and QB on passes over 15 yards, where the ball was continually dropped onto the shoulder away from the defender, allowing a seemingly well covered receiver to catch a ball or force a penalty. The patterns in the Giant offense were designed to create room for receivers to drift away from coverage without running out of bounds. The point is, the Giant’s offense is designed to generate deeper throws and completions, not just relying on the physical attributes of their receiving corps to get behind defenders.
It would be good to read a knowledgeable assessment of how the Falcon’s offensive designs produce certain results on the field and how the offense stacks up to other NFL teams.

FJ10

November 17th, 2011
8:26 am

Eric is right. You just have to watch a game. It’s not about arm strength because he over throws a lot of deep routes. He doesn’t have much of a touch or he’s so afraid of a turnover. He takes very little risk and while that’s good it leads to a lot of balls where no one can catch them.

Michael M.

November 17th, 2011
8:28 am

Ryan needs to throw bowling balls around some…that will build up those arms and arm strength…………no seriously there are exercise routines that build strength in the tendons but I can’t remember what it is called.Anyone know out there ?

truth

November 17th, 2011
8:29 am

I agree Matt Noodle Arm Ryan is not an championship level QB.

He locks down WRs. The Falcons run run run and run and when try play action either

1. He underthrows the ball
2. Throws it out of bounds

JSS

November 17th, 2011
8:30 am

Man, since Day 1, told you that this day would come… Matt Ryan game manager is what the résumé should read. That admission would go a long way to clearing the air here… It certainly would reallocate the pressure to the real centerpiece of this team, Michael Turner…

C. Tampa Ironworse

November 17th, 2011
8:31 am

Whew! Thank goodness ESPN said it. Now I can believe it. Great work reporting on another reporter’s work. Difficult stuff.

salinsa

November 17th, 2011
8:32 am

Arm strength isn’t the issue with deep passes. It’s about touch, timing and accuracy. Chris Chandler was threw an amazing deep pass, so did Steve Young (the QB I liked the best for this route was Jeff Blake). And none of them had great arm strength. Vick has an amazing arm but is at the bottom of the list. I remember watching Stafford not be very good on this route in Athens.

The issue with Ryan is his accuracy isn’t very good when throwing deep. (It’s not that great on other routes either).

Big Enos Burdette

November 17th, 2011
8:33 am

He’s not very accurate on short passes either.

Should have won last week in regulation, but he couldn’t hit Gonzales on the short post at the goal line. Shouldn’t have gone to OT.

Dawgdad (The Original)

November 17th, 2011
8:34 am

Falcons shortsighted, should have kept Matt Schaub.

Samuel

November 17th, 2011
8:35 am

The stat where guys who throw the deep ball well, are on winning teams can be skewed. what’s the talent level on those teams? I think Matt Ryan is trying to get better and I’m sure he’s working on his deep passes with his recievers. But the wideouts have to catch the ball, I’ve seen alot of dropped passes in the last eight games, to know it can mess with a quarterbacks rythm. Being said that, Ryan is not playing the kind of football that you win championships with.

truth

November 17th, 2011
8:36 am

If everyday fans can see the problems with Ryan

I am sure NFL professionals can too.

JP

November 17th, 2011
8:37 am

LMAO at all you “experts” out there! Do you really think the Falcons management, coaches, etc – along with Matt Ryan don’t know the type of exercises that “increase arm strength”? The organization has $75 million reasons why they’ll work with Matt to get this right. Football, more than any other sport, is a TEAM effort.

Michael M.

November 17th, 2011
8:38 am

Anyway anyone looks at it……its what it is, but you can’t say he’s a loser. The kids won a lot of games and brought the Team back to almost a win in Sundays game. He’s a smart QB, tough as nails after we saw the beating he was taking the first of the year and with that tall frame, he can see over the line.

Hes a keeper………..lets not get on the bandwagon now of crying……….” We need another QB too “.
Give me a break.

truth

November 17th, 2011
8:39 am

JP,

They probably dont. This isRyans 4th season and his arm stength/deep throw have not improved

Chuck (ATL)

November 17th, 2011
8:39 am

Worst deep ball in the league among a “real” NFL QB. The other 4 on the list are lame ducks. QB of the future? If that’s the case, I don’t want to be a part of the future.

kudos

November 17th, 2011
8:39 am

why do people get “kudos” for writing “first” in a post? is that a badge of honor?

hiramsaint

November 17th, 2011
8:39 am

i could have told you that 4 years ago!

ATLbred

November 17th, 2011
8:40 am

A look see at Ryan Mallet wouldn’t hurt…

Bob W

November 17th, 2011
8:40 am

It could also mean that the offensive scheme isn’t conducive to long passes, or that his receivers aren’t as fast as those on other teams. Remember his first pass in the NFLm went for 62 yards to Michael Jenkins. In the loss to the Saints the Falcons should have taken the opening drive and methodically driven down the field and kicked the winning field goal just like they did to tie the game
at the end of regulation. They had 2nd and 2 and threw a long incomplete pass and then couldn’t make the two yards on third down then. The defense held the Saints to a 3 and out and then Smith
didn’t trust his defense to stop the Saints when he should have punted on fourth and inches.

SCFalcon

November 17th, 2011
8:41 am

Ryan is better suited for a west coast type offense that takes advantage of short to intermediate passes. Think about it, it’s what made him successful at Boston College. His Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski,is a former Green Bay Offensive Coordinator. I hope that we can replace Mularkey with a west coast guy (not named Greg Knapp).

real fan

November 17th, 2011
8:42 am

Scheme. Look at the scheme. Mularkey is a conservative high percentage oc . He could care less about deep ball passing. On top of that if your playing a team like GB or NO and your trying to to win time of possesion .you do not play long ball. This offense has all the weapons for quick strike . But no offensive mind for it . I would love to see what Mike Martz would do with this talent.

JSS

November 17th, 2011
8:44 am

“Anyway anyone looks at it……its what it is, but you can’t say he’s a loser.”
Oh yeah? He’s a “loser” of his last 5 of 6 games against teams with .500 or above record!
He lights the Derek Andersen, Jimmy Clausen, and Tavaris Jackson’s of the world up!!!

cvow19

November 17th, 2011
8:45 am

real fan, Do you honestly think that Mularky’s plays don’t have deep options in them? Get real pal. It only seems like there aren’t any case the camera is focused some where around the line of scrimmage, where matty “ice” just threw the ball.

JP

November 17th, 2011
8:46 am

@Kudos,

Good call. That whole “first” thing is so lame it’s pathetic! Anyone who submits a post that says “first” is a dumbass! And the post should be immediately deleted so the rest of us don’t have to see it.

Come up with something to say besides “first”.

tp

November 17th, 2011
8:46 am

Mark – I’m glad you brought up Chris Chandler. I was a season ticket holder for 12 years. Out of all the quarterbacks I observed, Chandler and Warren Moon threw the best deep ball in my opinion. In fact, I think Warren Moon threw the nicest pass of any kind.

Though he lacked superb arm strength, I think Chris Miller also threw a great deep ball. He just wasn’t a run and shoot quarterback, so people don’t give him the credit.

DJ Sniper

November 17th, 2011
8:47 am

Matt Ryan has his flaws, but getting rid of him is NOT the answer. We don’t have a Joey Harrington type of QB playing for this team or anything like that. I’ll admit that Ryan’s arm isn’t as strong as Aaron Rogers or Michael Vick, but if having a rocket for an arm was the main requirement for winning a title, Jeff George and plenty of others would have won Super Bowls by now.

IMHO, accuracy is his main issue. I’ve seen him underthrow receivers before, but I’ve also seen him overthrow receivers as well, so I know he can get it down the field. Hell, even to this day, Drew Brees is never mentioned as being a QB with an exceptionally strong arm, yet his accuracy is through the roof.

What a bunch of Mularkey

November 17th, 2011
8:48 am

Surely if ESPN can figure this out the brain trust of the Falcons coaching staff could figure it out. You know, the one who thinks it’s wise to go for it on 4th down on your own 30 in overtime in a must-win game against a division rival, and hand the ball off to your glacially slow running back 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage when you only need 6″?

Really, it’s Mularkey’s job to understand the strengths and limitations of his personnel and use them accordingly. Ryan’s inability to throw deep doesn’t stop them from wasting critical downs doing it. In the New Orleans game there was a series where a long incompletion took us from 2nd and 1 to 3rd and 1, and then we ran for no gain and had to PUNT.

Get rid of Mularkey, get an NFL caliber offensive line and a marquee running back, and then evaluate whether Matt Ryan can get it done.

bigcrimson75

November 17th, 2011
8:49 am

does anyone remember we gave the real matty ice away to houston.

williebkind

November 17th, 2011
8:50 am

I remember White dropping the ball in the in-zone. The ball hit him in the hands chest high. Now is that the QB’s fault? That would have been the game.

Michael M.

November 17th, 2011
8:52 am

Some of you so called Fans just want to complain …….why not be grateful you have a great sports football team ! Many Cities don’t have that luxury and would give anything for it but some of you just gripe and complain.

Atlanta goes into the playoffs again this year …………………….it won’t be because of Fan support !
Some of you make me want to puke !

Herschel Talker

November 17th, 2011
8:52 am

MB:

Please remind me why Dimitroff traded away the farm to get a guy whose prowess is receiving deep balls when we have a QB who can’t throw deep passes.

HT