Matt Ryan’s MVP Case


John Keen


Atlanta Falcon’s Matt Ryan in action at the 2017 NFL Conference Championship Sunday, January 22nd. 

Regardless of the Atlanta Falcons’ postseason success, Matt Ryan deserves the NFL MVP. His combination of individual and team success exceeds any other player, including Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot and Tom Brady.

Ryan’s individual statistics were jaw dropping. He passed for 4,944 yards at a 70 percent clip, while tossing 38 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Ryan also led the NFL in Quarterback Rating — or QBR — an advanced stat created by ESPN to measure a quarterback’s true production.

While Ryan received helped from a revamped offensive line and running game, the Falcons’ signal caller was still sacked 37 times, the second highest total of his career.

Despite Ryan’s high sack total, Atlanta’s offense was still historically great, something Ryan attributes to his offseason preparations.

“I think it’s getting your feet right, working on positioning of where your feet want to be. How I’ve trained this offseason, I’ve worked really hard on it. I don’t know about [distance], but it just feels good coming off, and certainly putting it in good spots for our guys,” Ryan said via

Furthermore, Ryan’s favorite target, All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, was hampered for much of the season’s second half with a turf toe injury.

Atlanta’s porous defense did not do Ryan any favors either. In some cases this season, Ryan had to score every time out just to keep Atlanta alive, an added pressure that none of the other MVP candidates had to face.  

Atlanta won the NFC after finishing the regular season 11-5, while also securing the second seed in the NFC playoffs behind Dallas, a team led by two superstar rookies in the aforementioned Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot.

Prescott and Elliot combined for a great Dallas season, vaulting the Cowboys record to 13-3 and securing the NFC number one overall playoff seed.

However, looking at their individual production, Prescott and Elliot’s numbers still pale in comparison to Ryan.

Prescott passed for 3667 yards at a 67.8% completion rate, while throwing 23 touchdowns to 4 interceptions.

Taking a deeper look at Ryan and Prescott’s numbers, it becomes clear that Ryan took more chances down the field compared to Prescott’s more conservative play.  Ryan averaged 10.1 yards per attempt to Prescott’s 8.6 yards per pass.

Prescott was also only sacked 25 times, a tip of the cap to Dallas’ great offensive line, something both Prescott and Elliot can partially attribute their great seasons to.

Moving over to the AFC MVP contender, only one player really challenges Ryan for the award, two-time MVP Tom Brady.

Brady helped lead the New England Patriots to the NFL’s best record at 14-2.

While Brady’s numbers are down across the board, due to having served a four-game suspension for “Deflategate,” his 28-2 touchdown to interception ratio was the NFL’s highest percentage.

However, the Patriots went 3-1 during Brady’s suspension showing, while Brady’s season was incredible, the Patriots were still able to win at a 75% clip without him.

Prescott and Elliot had Dallas’ offensive line and defense. Brady had New England’s system led by Bill Belichick. Matt Ryan had himself and a few choice weapons, some of the best being injured throughout the season.

When the NFL decides who will win the 2016 NFL MVP, Matt Ryan should be the clear choice.