One of the reasons the Falcons have been competitive as of late is quarterback Matt Ryan’s ever-growing comfort in head coach Arthur Smith’s offense. During the team’s 0-2 start to the season, the passing game struggled to do much of anything. Since then, Ryan has thrown for 1,204 yards, 10 touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 106.9, as Atlanta has won three of its last four games.
Smith was asked his thoughts on how Ryan responded following the quarterback’s late-game fumble that led to the Dolphins taking the lead.
“So, you got to have the right mindset and you got to have some courage, especially at the quarterback position and he does,” said Smith. “He’s a special player. I personally think he’s criminally underrated if you look at his career here in the National Football League.”
It’s true, even within Atlanta’s fanbase where Ryan has played for 14 seasons. A lot of this has to do with Ryan’s limited athleticism, which showed up in Week 7 against the Dolphins. After buying time, Ryan took off running but fumbled trying to fight for extra yards. While it was uncharacteristic of the former MVP, it was still a costly mistake.
This blunder eventually led to a Dolphins touchdown that put the Falcons in a two-point deficit with two minutes remaining. However, on the ensuing drive, Ryan showed once again why he is one of the NFL’s best pocket passers, masterfully guiding Atlanta down the field for a game-winning field goal.
Despite what many may tell you, pocket passers still have a place in the NFL and you can still win a Super Bowl with one (see 2020). It simply comes down to how the quarterback’s talents align with the team’s offensive system.
Ryan’s two-minute drive to give the Falcons a 30-28 win is also the 40th game-winning drive of his career — enough to tie Hall of Famer John Elway for the seventh-most in NFL history. This leaves Ryan just three games behind Brett Favre and seven from tying Dan Marino for fifth all-time.