Coming off of a Pro Bowl 2014 season, expectations were fairly high for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. After all, the former Boston College superstar had just come off of four consecutive seasons with over 4,000 passing yards and over 25 touchdowns.
Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan Ready for Bounce Back 2016
Unfortunately for both Ryan and the Falcons, the 2015 NFL season was one of his worst seasons of his career. Ryan still racked up over 4,000 passing yards and a 66.3% completion percentage. However, he had a less than stellar 21-16 touchdown to interception ratio. He also had a career high eight fumbles on passing plays. While some of this could be blamed on a weak offensive line; Ryan’s confidence also played a key role in his struggles. In past seasons, Ryan looked far more composed in the pocket and played with far more confidence. It’s what led him to three Pro Bowls and an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2012.
Last season Ryan looked less confident. It seemed as if he did not trust his reads and calls as much as he did in years prior. While his is coming off of a down season, the offense is much improved. Head coach Dan Quinn is also now in his second season as the Falcons head coach. With more weapons surrounding Ryan and a much improved offensive line, all signs are pointing towards a bounce back 2o16 for the franchise quarterback.
Last season, the Falcons struggled with providing Matt Ryan with enough viable options on offense. While superstar receiver Julio Jones was as dominant and reliable as ever in 2015, one of the only other viable receiving threats the Falcons could put out on the field was Devonta Freeman. Freeman had a breakout season for the Falcons. His dual-threat ability certainly played a key role in him making his first career Pro Bowl. Last season, Freeman rushed for over 1,000 yards and had over 575 receiving yards. These are numbers that the Falcons would love to see again in 2016.
While both players played key roles in the offense, Ryan was extremely overdependent on the two. They were the only players who saw over 90 targets on the season for the Falcons. Jones, while putting up over 1,800 yards last season, saw over 200 targets. That number is far too high for a receiver of any caliber. Even Antonio Brown, who finished the season with only 37 fewer yards than Jones, did not receive over 200 targets last season. Even with fewer targets, Brown managed to put up numbers equitable to Jones. He also managed to be over three percent more efficient in terms of catch percentage.
This season, Ryan has far more options on offense. With the free agent acquisitions of Mohamed Sanu and Aldrick Robinson and the additions through the draft of Austin Hooper and Devin Fuller, the Falcons expect to be far deeper on offense than they have been in years. With players like Justin Hardy and Tevin Coleman entering their second seasons, they should be much improved and bring with them more experience from their rookie seasons. The offensive line, which was a weak spot on the Falcons roster, was bolstered by the free agent signing of Alex Mack.
These overall improvements to the Falcons offense will be vital to the success of Matt Ryan. If given a multitude of options, he will be extremely successful. When the Falcons were in contention back in 2012, Ryan had players like Jones, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Turner on the field as reliable, Pro Bowl caliber options on offense. As long as Ryan trusts his abilities and uses the new additions to the offense, all signs point towards him having a phenomenal 2016 season.