My intention was to just post a comment to Elliot Harrison’s article on my Facebook page, but as I dug deeper into my argument against his reasoning not to list Matt Ryan as a potential MVP for next season I realized my comment was too long for a Facebook post.
So here it is: in regards to this article Elliot Harrison wrote for NFL.com.
With all due respect to Elliot Harrison, he could not be more blind to the career Matt Ryan has posted and the abundance return the Falcons will have on offense next season.
First off, he doesn’t even put Matt Ryan’s name on his list of potential MVPs; he has Julio Jones on the list but not Ryan. Don’t get me wrong, Julio has all the capabilities in the world to win the MVP, but a wide receiver has never won the award before.
Secondly, one of his reasons for not putting Ryan on his list was because of how uncommon it has been for a player to repeat as MVP. Which makes sense, but if he is going to have Julio Jones on this list (a wide receiver/a position that has never won the award) than it shouldn’t matter to him about how hard it has been for someone in the past to repeat as MVP.
Thirdly, he claims, and I quote, “he came out of nowhere to be named the league’s Most Valuable Player.” Sure Ryan wasn’t at the top of many voter’s lists at the beginning of last season, but his “breakout” year, as many of these writers call it, should not have been a surprise. The 2016 season marked the fifth-straight season Ryan has finished in the top-five for passing yards, as well as his fifth-straight year of having a top-10 completion percentage. Ryan has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the NFL since making his debut back in 2008.
Sure, the Falcons had not been to the playoffs since 2012, but look at the team Ryan had surrounding him. The offense was always pretty good, but the defense was a joke until Dan Quinn took over. In comparison to Tom Brady, who Elliot Harrison has at the top of his MVP board for next season, other than touchdowns and wins, Ryan leads Brady in essentially every other statistical category at this point in their respected careers.
Tom Brady and the Patriots have had a great defense for almost his entire career and people wonder why he has been so successful in winning the Super Bowl. The 2002, 2005 and 2011 seasons are the only seasons in which the Patriots defense has finished ranked outside the top 10. Their defense ranked 17th in 2002, 17th in 2005 and 15th in 2011. Tom Brady has won the Super Bowl during the 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014 and 2016 seasons. In 2001 their defense ranked 6th, 1st in 2003, 2nd in 2004, 8th in 2014 and 1st in 2016.
Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has only played two seasons with a defense that ranked inside the top 10. The old saying goes, “defense wins championships.”
Atlanta Falcons’ defensive ranks:
2008 – 11
2009 – 14
2010 – 5
2011 – 18
2012 – 5
2013 – 27
2014 – 27
2015 – 14
2016 – 27
Where am I getting at with all these defensive rankings? Towards the end of last season the Falcons defense turned it up a notch and that’s when people started to take notice that Matt Ryan may actually win the MVP. After the BYE last season, the Falcons defense only 20 or more points twice during the regular season. During that stretch (six games), the defense picked the ball off six times and recorded 12 sacks.
So if the defense is what’s scaring people away from putting Matt Ryan back on the board than they should go back and watch how they finished the season and amount for all the players they have added to the defense throughout the offseason. Other than that, Ryan should not be kept off these boards because of what previous MVP winners have done during their next season.