Oh, not for the league. At this point, the only thing that is going to stop a guy named Manning from winning that award this season is a visit from Tonya Harding’s ex-husband.
But in the context of the Atlanta Falcons, it’s no doubt who is their most valuable player this season. Last year, while Matt Ryan got the love from the media, Michael Turner was the team’s most valuable player. For a handful of games, Matt Ryan really didn’t need to show up just because Turner was bulldozing through subpar NFL defenses.
But this year with the quality of competition the Falcons face being a level or two higher, Matt Ryan is the one that has stepped up his game. Yahoo! Sports Michael Silver is on the bandwagon. Ryan isn’t getting quite the buzz league-wide, mainly because there are more compelling stories at quarterback such as Brett Favre, the Mannings, the return of Tom Brady, and Jay Cutler-Kyle Orton dichotomy. But that could change next week. The Falcons get to play in primetime against Cutler and the Bears, and if Ryan has another strong performance coupled with a Falcons win, then the slurp fest of Ryan may reach Bacchanalian levels.
Ryan isn’t putting up ridiculous numbers yet, but in terms of Falcons history, he might be on pace to having the greatest season for a Falcon quarterback ever. He’s on pace for 3,908 yards, which would be second most ever to Jeff George’s 4,143 in 1995. He’s on pace for 28 touchdowns, which would only be third behind Steve Bartkowski’s 31 and 30-score seasons in 1980 and 1981. And he has a passer rating of 102.9, which would eclipse Chris Chandler’s 100.9 mark from 1998 as the best ever in team history. And his 66.7 completion percentage would only be second to Bartkowski’s 67.3 mark from 1984.
I don’t know whether that illustrates just how good a quarterback Matt Ryan is becoming or how mediocre Falcons passers have been in the past. I’d rather believe it’s the former.