Matt Ryan will be entering his fifth professional season with the Atlanta Falcons after being selected in the first round from Boston College. He immediately earned the starting job and for the most part, has done nothing to make the team regret their decision to use the third pick in the draft to select him. The biggest knock on Ryan has been his inability to win in the playoffs, but many are expecting Ryan to turn the corner this season and take the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Is this the year Ryan finally becomes one of the best in the league?
When one thinks of elite quarterbacks, the names Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Eli Manning come to mind. For Ryan to see his name mentioned with the best, he needs to continue his regular season success and add postseason victories to his resume.
Ryan is 43-19 in 62 regular season starts and has missed just two games since coming into the league. With each season, he has done what you would hope from a player by improving every step of the way. A year ago, he threw for 4,177 yards with 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His numbers could have been even better if Roddy White didn't revert to his younger days and drop what seemed like a million passes. Add in a full year of professional experience for second-year wide out Julio Jones and Ryan is primed to become elite. With Jones, Ryan has an amazing receiver who could finish the 2012-13 season in the top five in receptions, yards and touchdowns, which would make him known as elite too.
The desire for the entire team to get veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez a Super Bowl ring might also help Ryan advance his game to the next level. Gonzalez is a first-ballot Hall of Famer but that Super Bowl title has been the one thing he hasn't gotten in his storied career. With the Falcons offense primed to be one of the best in the entire league, Gonzalez should be able to get open down the middle more often.
Preseason play isn't good for much, especially with starters playing so few snaps, but Ryan has played well for the Falcons and is making me believe the hype. As a longtime Atlanta fan, I hate hype. We had it with Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino, and of course, we all know how that turned out.
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Hobson Lopes is a fan of the Atlanta Falcons, thanks to Deion Sanders and can be followed on Twitter @HobsonLopes.
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