For the first half of the season, I picked Tony Gonzalez as the offense’s most valuable player. Primarily because Gonzalez through the first 8 or so games was the only player that consistently played at a high level nearly every week. Gonzalez’s performance sort of tailed off as the season wore on. That’s not meant to be a knock on him as he still continued to play well, just that he did not stand out above and beyond other players. And that is probably more due to those players stepping up their play than probably any fall off from Gonzalez.
That leaves me with a bit of a quandary on who to pick as the team’s most valuable player on offense for the entire season, and my choice is Matt Ryan.
Ryan was who I considered the most disappointing player in the first half of the season, mainly because expectations had been so high for him and he was underwhelming in many of the early games. But as the season wore on, Ryan’s play picked up to the point that I would say he was probably the most consistent guy playing at a high level in the second half of the season. Ryan did not have a huge year this year, but he was generally very solid to good.
Early on the year, I think part of Ryan’s struggles hinged on all of the new weapons like Julio Jones into the offense, as well the inconsistency of the blocking. Once the Falcons were able to stabilize their running game and line, I think Ryan was able to settle in. And I think the one thing we learned about Matt Ryan is that he is not a guy that thrives when he is in stormy waters. But for the most part I think he was able to steer the boat to safety.
Here are some Moneyball stats worth considering to nail the point home: In the first half of the season, Ryan’s TD-INT ratio was 12:9. In the second half, it was 17:3. For the year, Ryan had 66 poor throws. 37 of them came in the first half of the season on 276 passes (13.4%). In the second half, he threw 29 poor throws on 290 attempts (10%). And he nearly doubled his number of 20+ yard completions, with 27 in the second half compared to 14 in the first half of the season.