Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan won an NFL MVP with the Falcons following the 2016 season. ESPN writer Bill Barnwell went through the task of trying to find a player this season who matched a former MVP’s season.
He loosely drew a comparison of Ryan to Aaron Rodgers in 2020 to the Green Bay Packers by connecting a former MVP (Rodgers) who had a renaissance season at an advanced age.
“Ryan was traded to Indianapolis, where the Colts can protect him on the interior and rely on heavy doses of running back Jonathan Taylor,” writes Barnwell. “Ryan moves from what had been one of the toughest divisions (NFC South) to arguably its weakest (AFC South), and he still gets the benefit of playing in a dome.”
“Rodgers made his leap back into the elite class during his age-37 season. Can Ryan do the same in his?”
Ryan and Rodgers both became NFL starters in 2008, and Ryan has thrown for more yards than Rodgers in his career (59,735 to 55,360). Rodgers threw for 48 touchdowns during his 2020-MVP season, a career high, but he has thrown for at least 35 touchdowns six times in his career. That’s a number Ryan has only matched twice including a career-high 38 in his 2016-MVP season.
No matter what Falcons fans may think of Ryan as a quarterback, he is one of the most proficient passers in NFL history, but an MVP in 2022?
Barnwell had some fun with his article that included Broncos quarterback Brett Rypien and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, and Ryan, while improbable, is one of the more plausible MVP candidates in his write up.
The engine for the Indianapolis Colts will remain running back Jonathan Taylor. When Ryan broke in with the Falcons he had Michael Turner running through people to set up the pass. Turner rushed for nearly 1,700 yards Ryan’s rookie season in 2008, and had 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010 when the Falcons went 13-3… the best season under Ryan.
Ryan is out to prove the decline in on-field production was more about his supporting cast in Atlanta than his degradation in skills. He’ll have a better offensive line, running attack, and depth of receiving targets than he had his last season in Atlanta.
The Colts very well could make a playoff run with Ryan at the helm.
Not with Jonathan Taylor on the team.
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