Matt Ryan (American Football)
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Matt Ryan American Football

Matt Ryan
refer to caption
Ryan in 2018
No. 2 - Atlanta Falcons
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born: (1985-05-17) May 17, 1985 (age 35)
Exton, Pennsylvania
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:217 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:William Penn Charter School
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
College:Boston College
NFL Draft:2008 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 2, 2020
Passing attempts:6,907
Passing completions:4,521
Percentage:65.4
TD-INT:327-148
Passing yards:51,909
Passer rating:95.5
Rushing touchdowns:9
Receiving touchdowns:1
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Matthew Thomas Ryan (born May 17, 1985) is an American football quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL). After playing college football for Boston College, Ryan was drafted by the Falcons with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Ryan was Boston College's starting quarterback from 2005 to 2007, leading them to three bowl victories and a 25-7 record in 32 starts. He threw for 200 or more yards 15 times and is third all time in school history in passing yards and in pass completions. He earned MVP of the game honors at the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl.[1]

In 2007, Ryan led his team to an ACC Atlantic Division championship and was named ACC Player of the Year.[2] During his rookie year, Ryan started all 16 games for the Falcons and led them to the playoffs with an 11-5 season record. He earned honors as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. In 2016, Ryan was the NFL's Most Valuable Player and led the Falcons to Super Bowl LI, where they were defeated by the New England Patriots.

After signing a $150 million five-year extension with the Falcons in 2018, Ryan became the first $30 million per year quarterback and the highest paid player in NFL history until being surpassed months later by Aaron Rodgers.

High school career

Ryan attended the William Penn Charter School,[3] in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was a three-year starter and earned All-East honors from Larunt Lemming Prep Football Report. He captured All-Southeastern Pennsylvania accolades as a senior quarterback in addition to receiving All-City first-team honors in 2002 and second-team recognition in 2001. A three-time All-League selection, he threw for more than 1,300 yards with nine touchdowns as a senior, finishing his career by completing more than 52 percent of his pass attempts during all three seasons at the helm. Ryan played football, basketball and baseball while in high school and was named captain of all three teams his senior year. He was quarterback of the football team in 2002, played small forward on the basketball team, and was a pitcher and a shortstop on the baseball team.[4]

Ryan says he was "mildly" recruited and began receiving scholarship offers as a sophomore.[5] Some of the schools that offered him an athletic scholarship were Purdue, Georgia Tech, Temple, and Connecticut.[6] After attending his recruiting visit with Boston College during his junior year, it was announced he gave them his verbal commitment on August 14, 2002. His choices had come down to Iowa or Boston College. Ryan was looking for a university close to home and had a strong and competitive football program with a major emphasis on academics.[7]

College career

2003-2004 seasons

Ryan began attending Boston College in 2003 and redshirted his first year with the team.[8] Before the 2004 season, he was named the starting quarterback for Boston College due to an injury to Quinton Porter.[9] He made his collegiate debut on October 2, 2004 against the UMass Minutemen and completed two of three passes for 16 yards in the 29-7 victory.[10] He would not complete his first touchdown until November 20, 2004 against Temple, after throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Larry Lester. Replacing the injured Paul Peterson, he completed 9-of-15 passes for 121 yards in the 34-17 victory.[11] He made his first collegiate start on November 27, 2004 in the final game of that season, completing 24 of 51 passes for 200 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in a 43-17 loss against Syracuse.[12] He also played against North Carolina in the Continental Tire Bowl. He completed one of his two passes for 13 yards in the 37-24 victory.[13] Ryan was also quite proficient in the classroom, and was awarded the 2004 Freshman Male Scholar-Athlete award that same year.[14] Ryan launched a website during his senior year at Boston College called Mattyice.com, where fans and media have 24-hour access to video highlights, updated biographical information, statistics and other information about him.[15] In 2016, Boston College retired his jersey.[16]

2005 season

At the beginning of the 2005 season, Ryan was named the second-string quarterback behind Quinton Porter.[9] Porter had some success at the beginning of the year, including winning Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Week for his performance in Boston College's 28-17 win over Virginia.[17] After a 30-10 loss to third-ranked Virginia Tech, coach Tom O'Brien finally went to Ryan for good in the fourth quarter of the next game against North Carolina State.[18] In ten games, of which he started five, he completed 121 of 195 passes for 1,514 yards. He had eight touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for five touchdowns and 94 yards.[19] He started his first bowl game in the MPC Computers Bowl versus Boise State. He completed 19 of 36 passes for 256 yards and a career-best three touchdowns in the 27-21 victory to help Boston College finish with a #18 ranking in the final AP Poll.[20][21]

2006 season

Ryan started 11 of the 12 games. He completed 263-of-427 passes for a conference-leading 2,942 yards, 15 touchdowns, and ten interceptions.[22] In addition, he rushed for four touchdowns.[23] He was All-ACC first-team and led the ACC in total offense (242.2 yards per game) and in passing yards (245.5 yards per game). He was named ACC Offensive Back of the week three times. He set career highs in completions (32 against Central Michigan) and passing yards (356 against Brigham Young).[24][25] He led the team to a 9-3 record including double overtime wins versus Clemson and Brigham Young.[26] He led the Eagles to a close 25-24 victory on December 26, 2006 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Navy in Charlotte, North Carolina.[27] In the season opener against Central Michigan, Ryan sprained his ankle.[28] Against Virginia Tech, Ryan broke his foot on the same leg.[29] Despite these injuries, Ryan only missed one game (against Buffalo).[23] His 57 pass attempts in the 2006 Wake Forest game tied Shawn Halloran's performance against Syracuse Orange in 1985 and Frank Harris's performance against Army in 1968 for the school record his 40 pass completions in the 2006 Wake Forest game broke the old school record of 37 by Frank Harris in the game against Army in the 1968 season.[30][31]

2007 season

Ryan and the Boston College Eagles line up on offense in the 2007 ACC Championship game.

Before the season started, Ryan was named to the preseason All-ACC team. Boston College also hired a new coach: Jeff Jagodzinski, a longtime NFL assistant.[32] Against Wake Forest, he completed 32 of 52 passes for 408 yards and five touchdowns in the 38-28 victory.[33] He continued his hot streak versus Georgia Tech, going 30-of-44 with one touchdown and passing for a career-high 435 yards against the staunch Tech defense en route to a convincing 24-10 road victory.[34] After this game, Ryan was suggested as a potential Heisman Trophy contender.[35] Battling Virginia Tech through bad weather in Blacksburg, Virginia, Ryan led an amazing comeback for the Boston College Eagles, passing for two touchdowns with less than three minutes to play on October 25, 2007, including the game-winner with 11 seconds left to Andre Callender.[36][37] However, Ryan's chances to win the Heisman fell sharply after he threw three interceptions in a 27-17 loss to an unranked 6-3 Florida State.[38] However, with a strong performance against Clemson[39] his chances were raised substantially. Despite 2 consecutive ACC losses, Ryan and the Eagles found themselves with a trip to the conference championship on the line. Down 10-3 in the third quarter, he led the offense on a game-tying drive, hitting on key passes to Rich Gunnell, Andre Callender and Ryan Purvis, landing the Eagles at the Clemson two-yard line early in the fourth. James McCluskey finished the job from there, running it in to even the score at 10-apiece. Shortly thereafter, a Clemson turnover resulted in a Boston College field goal and a 13-10 lead for the Eagles.[40] On November 24, against ACC rival Miami,[41] Ryan surpassed Doug Flutie for the most passing touchdowns in a single season by an Eagle quarterback with 28 touchdowns, ultimately ending the season with 31. Despite these records, he struggled with throwing interceptions throughout the year, and finished with 19 (second most among college quarterbacks). His five touchdown passes in the 2007 Wake Forest game are one shy of the school record of six, held by Doug Flutie in 1984 against North Carolina. For the Boston College, it was their first 10-win regular season since 1940 and the first time they had achieved back-to-back 10-overall-win seasons in program history. He led the Eagles to extend the nation's longest bowl winning streak to eight with a 24-21 victory over Michigan State Spartans in the Champs Sports Bowl on December 28, Ryan threw three touchdown passes, two to Rich Gunnell and one to Jon Loyte.[42][43][44] He finished the season with a conference-leading 4,507 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions.[45][46]

Ryan earned various accolades for the 2007 season. He was named the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and the ACC Player of the Year.[47][48] He was awarded the 2007 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually in the United States to the nation's most outstanding college football senior quarterback, the other finalists for the 2007 award were Hawaii's Colt Brennan, Louisville's Brian Brohm, Oregon's Dennis Dixon, and Kentucky's Andre Woodson (all of whom were drafted at the 2008 NFL Draft).[49] He was selected to play in the 2008 Senior Bowl. He also won the 2007 Manning Award[50] awarded to the nation's top quarterback, beating out eventual Heisman winner Tim Tebow and eight other finalists for this year's award: Erik Ainge (Tennessee), Sam Bradford (Oklahoma), Colt Brennan (Hawai'i), Chase Daniel (Missouri), Dennis Dixon (Oregon), Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Pat White (West Virginia), and Andre' Woodson (Kentucky). He was named "Eagle of the Year" alongside Boston College's first ever individual champion Kasey Hill.[51] He finished in seventh place in the Heisman Trophy voting that year.[52]

He was featured as the cover athlete for the PS3 version of NCAA Football 09.[53]

Awards and honors

Statistics

Year Team Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A TD Int Rtg Att Yds Avg TD
2004 Boston College 35 71 49.3% 350 4.9 2 3 91.5 12 -3 -0.3 0
2005 Boston College 121 195 62.1% 1,514 7.8 8 5 135.7 37 94 2.5 5
2006 Boston College 263 427 61.6% 2,942 6.9 15 10 126.4 51 -35 -0.7 4
2007 Boston College 388 654 59.3% 4,507 6.9 31 19 127.0 68 2 0.0 2
Career 807 1,347 59.9% 9,313 6.9 56 37 126.2 168 58 0.3 11

Source:[54]

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Wonderlic
6 ft  in
(1.95 m)
228 lb
(103 kg)
All values from NFL Combine[55][56][57]

Ryan[58] scored a 32 on the Wonderlic exam, tying Louisville's Brian Brohm for the highest score by a quarterback in the 2008 Draft class.[59][60]

He was drafted third overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2008 NFL Draft[61][62][63] He was the second first-round pick of the draft to sign when he agreed to a six-year, $72 million contract on May 20, 2008; the contract contained $34.75 million in guaranteed money.[64] The contract made Ryan the fourth highest paid quarterback in the NFL behind Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Palmer, despite never having played a professional game.[65] This helped fuel the discussion regarding whether salaries for first-round draftees in the NFL were too high.[66] In addition, Ryan had signed endorsement deals with Nike[67] and AirTran.[68]

2008 season

Ryan in Oakland in 2008

On August 24, 2008, Ryan was named the starting quarterback for the September 7 regular season opener against the Detroit Lions.[69][70] Ryan became the first rookie quarterback to start a season for the Falcons since Michael Vick in 2001.[71] In the game, Ryan completed his first NFL pass for a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins,[72] becoming the first quarterback to throw a touchdown on his first career NFL pass since Michael Bishop of the New England Patriots in 2000.[73] Ryan was sacked for the first time by Lions defensive player Dewayne White in his first win. The second game of the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers marked Ryan's first interception by rookie cornerback Aqib Talib and also by Sabby Piscitelli.[74]

In Week 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs, he completed the then-longest touchdown pass in his career for 70 yards to Roddy White. The 70-yard touchdown pass to White was the longest pass completion for the Falcons since December 23, 2007, when Chris Redman threw a 74-yard touchdown pass. In the same game, Ryan completed passes to 6 different players.[75] The following week, he threw for 194 yards and two touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers. His touchdown passes went to Roddy White and tight end Justin Peelle.[76] The following week against the Chicago Bears Ryan led the Falcons to a comeback win. With six seconds left he completed a 26-yard strike to Michael Jenkins that set Jason Elam up for the game-winning field goal as time expired. Ryan finished the game 22-of-30 for a then career-high 301 passing yards.[77] He also had a key fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Roddy White. On Atlanta's first offensive drive, Ryan completed all five of his pass attempts for 57 yards en route to a Falcons field goal and a 3-0 lead. Ryan was named Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week for his performance.[78]

Ryan created an activity named "Folleyball" for NFL Play 60 at NFL Rush.com, published in October of that year.[79]

Ryan takes a snap against the Raiders on November 2.

On October 30, Ryan was honored as the NFC Rookie of the Month for October following an impressive string of games in which he led the Falcons to a 2-1 record. Ryan became the first player in Falcons franchise history to be awarded this honor[80][81] In Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders, Ryan finished with the highest completion percentage of his career (77.3). He threw for 220 yards, two touchdowns, and posted a quarterback rating of 138.4. He also completed passes to eight different receivers and the game was his third multiple touchdown game (Green Bay, Philadelphia).[82][83] His first half passing yardage, completion percentage (81.3) and passer rating (154.2) are all career highs for a half and his two touchdowns tie a first half high, Ryan's final completion percentage of 77.3 is a career-high along with his passer rating of 138.4. He was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week following his performance against the Raiders.[84][85][86][87] He scored his first rushing career touchdown against the New Orleans Saints on December 7 with a 12-yard touchdown scramble, Ryan also achieved 3,000+ passing yards in the 2008 season being only the 2nd rookie to do so. Peyton Manning was the first.[88][89]

Ryan became the first Falcons rookie quarterback in franchise history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season after finishing with 206 yards against Tampa Bay. Ryan's passing total also makes him only the 10th quarterback in club annals to hit the 3,000-yard mark and the first since 1998 when Chris Chandler threw 3,154.[90] It was also his first overtime win as a starter. He was named the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for games played after his performance by the second time in his career.[91][92] Ryan finished second amongst rookies in fan Pro Bowl voting (416,468 votes), behind only Titans running back Chris Johnson.[93] Ryan threw for a season-low 134 yards in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings, ending a streak of nine straight games with at least 200 yards passing, he finished 13-of-24 passing, throwing an 8-yard touchdown passes to Jerious Norwood in the second quarter; however, with this win Ryan led the Falcons to their first playoff berth since 2004.[94]

He finished the season with 3,440 passing yards, 17 touchdowns (one rushing), and 11 interceptions.[95] He and fellow rookie Joe Flacco were the first rookie quarterbacks to lead their teams to the playoffs after starting all 16 games of the season. He is one of twelve rookie quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards (2,743 m) in their rookie season. On December 31, Ryan was named the AP NFL Rookie of the Year.[96][97][98] In addition, he was named to the All-Rookie Team for the 2008 season, joining Steve Bartkowski (1975) & Doug Johnson (2000) as the only Falcons quarterbacks to ever claim this award.[99]

Ryan made his first playoff start in the Wild Card Round against the Arizona Cardinals on January 3, 2009. He was 15 years younger than opposing quarterback Kurt Warner, the third-largest age discrepancy between playoff quarterbacks. His first attempted playoff pass was an interception. Ryan completed 26 of 40 passing attempts for 199 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted twice. He threw his first touchdown in a playoff contest to Justin Peelle.[100] Atlanta lost, 30-24.[101][100] Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith and Ryan became the first rookie head coach and rookie quarterback to coach and compete in a playoff game since the Cleveland Rams accomplished the feat with coach Adam Walsh and quarterback Bob Waterfield in 1945 (the feat was repeated the next day when Ravens Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh did so.)[100] During the game, Ryan set an NFL playoff rookie record with 26 completions in a single postseason game.[100]

2009 season

Ryan being introduced before the Falcons' 2009 regular season opener on September 13

Ryan was voted by his teammates as Offensive Captain alongside offensive lineman Todd McClure at the end of the 2008 season.[102]

In 2009, Ryan started off the season fast as he threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions as he led the Falcons to a 19-7 win against the Miami Dolphins in the 2009 NFL season opener.[103] In Week 2, Ryan led the Falcons past the Carolina Panthers. Ryan had a career-high in touchdown passes (3), completion percentage (78%) and touchdown passes in a half (3). He finished the game 21-28 with 220 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception.[104] In Week 3, Ryan and the Falcons lost to the New England Patriots. Ryan completed 17-28 for 199 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.[105]

In the Week 5 game against the San Francisco 49ers, he completed 15 of 21 passes for 258 yards in the first half, setting a new career-high for the first half of play.[106][107] Ryan finished the game having completed 22 of 32 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns for a 110.0 passer rating. Ryan tossed a 31-yard strike to Roddy White, and he connected to White again in the second quarter with a 90-yard touchdown.[108] The pass and reception for Ryan and White set new career highs. The pass and reception also mark the third longest in franchise history and the longest pass play since 2001.[107] The game was his third-career 300-yard passing outing as the second-year quarterback set a new career-high in total passing yards with 329 in a single game.[107][109]

In Weeks 6 through 9, Ryan generally struggled, throwing more interceptions (8) than touchdowns (6), was sacked 10 times, and had an average passing rating of 65.5. Still, he led the Falcons to two victories in the four games, in part thanks to Michael Turner having some strong performances.[110][111][112][113]

In Week 12, Ryan suffered a turf toe injury during the game against Tampa Bay. Chris Redman stepped in and managed to win the game by connecting to Roddy White for a five-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.[114] Following this victory, however, the effect of Ryan's absence was compounded by injury to starting running back Michael Turner, and the Falcons suffered a 34-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and a 26-23 loss to the New Orleans Saints in Weeks 13 and 14.[115][116] In Week 15, Ryan returned, despite not yet having fully recovered from his injury, and led Atlanta to a 10-7 upset win against the New York Jets.[117]

In Week 16, the Falcons defeated the Buffalo Bills in a 31-3 win. Ryan threw for 250 yards with three touchdowns, two of them to Roddy White.[118] In the last game of the season, the Falcons defeated the Buccaneers by a score of 20-10. In the win, Ryan had 223 passing yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.[119]

With a record of 9-7, the Falcons attained back to back winning seasons for the first time in franchise history.[120]

Ryan finished the season throwing for 2,916 yards with 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 80.9. Ryan also rushed for 49 yards and one touchdown.[121]

2010 season

In the 2010 season, Ryan led the Falcons to an NFC best 13-3 record, second in the NFL behind the 14-2 New England Patriots.[122]

Ryan's 2010 season started off slow in a 15-9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was 27-of-44 for 252 yards and an interception.[123] He bounced back in the next game against the Arizona Cardinals. In the 41-7 victory, he was 21-of-32 for 225 yards and three touchdowns.[124] In Week 7, he had his most efficient game of the season in the 39-32 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He was 24-of-33 for 299 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception for a season-high 118.1 passer rating.[125] The victory over the Bengals was the start of an eight-game winning streak for Ryan and the Falcons. In Week 10, against the Baltimore Ravens, he passed for 316 yards and three touchdowns in the 26-21 win.[126] After falling to the New Orleans Saints in Week 16, Ryan closed out the regular season with a 31-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers with 236 passing yards and two touchdowns.[127][128]

On the season, Ryan set career highs in touchdowns (28), completion percentage (62.5), and yards (3,705) while tossing nine interceptions. Ryan set the single season franchise records, as well as career highs, in attempts (571), completions (357), and wins in a season (13).[129] Ryan led the NFL in fourth quarter comebacks for a quarterback in the 2010 season, with six.

In the Divisional Round, the Falcons were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl XLV champions, Green Bay Packers, with the score 48-21. In the loss, Ryan passed for 186 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.[130]

Ryan was invited to the 2011 Pro Bowl, for the first time of his career.[131] He threw two touchdowns in the Pro Bowl, one to Tony Gonzalez and the other to Larry Fitzgerald.[132] He was named as the 52nd best player in the league on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2011.[133]

2011 season

In the 2011 season, Ryan led the Falcons to a 10-6 record, passing for 4,177 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.[134]

In the season opener against the Chicago Bears, Ryan was 31-of-47 for 319 yards and an interception in the 30-12 loss.[135] However, in the next game, the Falcons bounced back with a 35-31 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Ryan was 17-of-28 for 195 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions.[136] In Weeks 10 and 11, he recorded consecutive games with at least 300 passing yards in games against the New Orleans Saints and the Tennessee Titans.[137][138] In Week 14, against the Carolina Panthers, he was 22-of-38 for 320 yards and four touchdowns in the 31-23 victory to his second career NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor.[139][140] Ryan finished the 2011 season with 4,177 passing yards, 29 passing touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.[141]

The Falcons' regular season mark of 10-6 qualified them for the playoffs. However, they were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants in the Wild Card Round by a score of 24-2. In the loss, Ryan was 24-of-41 passing for 199 yards.[142]

2012 season

In 2012, Ryan led the Falcons to their franchise best start of the season, starting 8-0.[143] Ryan set personal records in completions (422), completion percentage (68.6), yards (4,719), and touchdowns (32).[144]

In the 8-0 start, Ryan posted four games with three touchdown passes and three games going over the 300-yard passing mark. The first loss of the season for the Falcons came in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints. Ryan was 34-of-52 for a then career-high 411 yards and three touchdowns and one interception as the Falcons fell by a score of 31-27.[145] In the next game against the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan threw for 301 yards but had a career-worst five interceptions. Despite the turnovers, the Falcons won by a score of 23-19.[146] In the penultimate game of the regular season, he was 25-of-32 for 279 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-18 victory over the Detroit Lions to his third career NFC Offensive Player of the Week nod.[147][148]

The Falcons finished the regular season 13-3, with the first seed in the NFC. Ryan, who was 0-3 in the postseason coming into the playoffs, won his first postseason game in the Divisional Round against the Seattle Seahawks, with Ryan orchestrating the final scoring drive that led to Matt Bryant's game-winning 49-yard field goal. Ryan finished with 250 passing yards, 68.6% completion percentage, three touchdowns, and two interceptions in the 30-28 victory.[149] In the NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers, Ryan threw for 396 yards and three touchdowns, but also committed two turnovers in crucial portions of the game, and later sprained the AC joint to his non-throwing shoulder as the Falcons lost 28-24.[150][151] He did not require surgical procedure to repair his shoulder and would have been able to play in Super Bowl XLVII if the Falcons had advanced. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the second time in his career, but he declined due to the shoulder injury.[152][153] He was ranked #17 by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2013.[154]

2013 season

On July 25, 2013, Ryan agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $103.75 million with the Falcons.[155] On December 30, Ryan surpassed Steve Bartkowski for the all-time franchise leader in passing yards.[156]

The Falcons had a down year, where they recorded a 4-12 record due to multiple injuries and losing key players on both sides of the ball.[157] Ryan did record some impressive individual performances in the down season. In Week 2, against the St. Louis Rams, he had 374 passing yards and two touchdowns in the 31-24 victory.[158] Against the New England Patriots in Week 4, he was 34-of-54 for a then career-high 421 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the 30-23 loss.[159] In his performance against the Patriots, Ryan became the first quarterback in franchise history to have multiple games with at least 400 passing yards.[160] Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7, he was 20-of-26 for 273 yards and three touchdowns for a 148.4 passer rating in the 31-23 victory to earn NFC Offensive Player of the Week.[161][162] After the victory, the Falcons were 2-4 with all the losses being by a combined 19 points. However, the rest of the season collapsed starting with five consecutive losses, which the team never recovered from.[163] In Week 8, against the Arizona Cardinals, he had a career-high 61 pass attempts for 301 yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions in the 27-13 loss.[164]

Overall, on the season, Ryan passed for 4,515 yards, which ranked fourth in the league, with 26 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.[165][166]

2014 season

Ryan against the Ravens in 2014

Ryan led the Falcons to a 6-10 record in 2014. He threw for 4,694 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 93.9[167]

The season did start off promising with a 37-34 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints. Ryan was 31-of-43 for a then career-high 448 yards and three touchdowns to earn NFC Offensive Player of the Week.[168][169] After a 24-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the Falcons defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 56-14 on Thursday Night Football.[170] In the victory, Ryan was 21-of-24 for a career-high single-game completion percentage of 87.50% and had 286 yards and three touchdowns for a career-high 155.9 passer rating. He earned another NFC Offensive Player of the Week honor for his effort against the Buccaneers.[171][172] The Falcons went on to lose six of their next eight games. After a much-needed 29-18 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, the Falcons faced off against the Green Bay Packers[173] and lost 43-37 as Ryan had 375 passing yards, four touchdowns, and one interception.[174] After a 27-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and a 30-14 victory over the New Orleans Saints, the Falcons had a 6-9 record. Despite the struggles of the 2014 season, the Falcons still had a chance to make the playoffs with a Week 17 victory due to the weakness of the entire NFC South division.[175] However, the Falcons missed the playoffs for a second consecutive saeson after losing 34-3 to their divisional rivals, Carolina Panthers, in Week 17.[176] For the third time in his career, Ryan was named to the Pro Bowl.[177] He was ranked as the 77th best player in the league among his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2015.[178]

2015 season

Ryan in 2015

Ryan led the Falcons to an 8-8 record in 2015, good for second in the NFC South, but not enough to reach the playoffs.[179]

The 2015 season was an inconsistent one for Ryan and the Falcons. In the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football, he was 23-of-34 for 298 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the 26-24 victory.[180] In the next game against the New York Giants, he was 30-of-46 for 363 yards and a touchdown in the 24-20 victory.[181] The Falcons won the next three games for a 5-0 start. Their first loss came in the sixth game with a 31-21 setback against the New Orleans Saints, where Ryan was 30-of-44 for 295 yards and two touchdowns.[182] After a 10-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans, the Falcons dropped their next six games to send their season plummeting. In the losing streak, Ryan had a season-high 397 passing yards for two touchdowns and an interception in a 23-20 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8 on November 1.[183]

Ryan finished the 2015 season with 21 touchdown passes, the second lowest of his career, as well as 16 interceptions, the second highest of his career. Additionally Ryan fumbled a career-high 12 times, losing five of them, which was also a career-high.[184]

2016 season: MVP season

Ryan started off the 2016 season with 334 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 31-24 setback to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.[185] The next game, a 35-28 victory over the Oakland Raiders, he passed for 396 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.[186] In Week 4, Ryan threw for a team-record 503 yards and four touchdowns while teammate Julio Jones caught 12 passes for a team-record 300 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Carolina Panthers.[187] Ryan and Jones were the first quarterback-receiver duo in NFL history to combine for at least 500 passing yards and 300 receiving yards in the same game.[188] In October 2016, he set an NFL record for most consecutive games with at least 200 passing yards with 46 straight games.[189] In Week 9, in the 43-28 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he had 344 passing yards and four touchdowns to earn NFC Offensive Player of the Week.[190] In Week 17, in a 38-32 victory over the New Orleans Saints, he had 331 passing yards and four touchdowns to earn NFC Offensive Player of the Week.[191][192] Ryan improved greatly from the previous season. He threw for a career-high 4,944 yards on just 373 completions and 534 attempts, second in the league, and a career-high 38 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions, also second in the league. Ryan's 9.3 yards per attempt and 5.0 air yards per attempt ranked No. 1 among NFL quarterbacks in 2016.[193] He threw a touchdown pass in all 16 games for the first time in his career and was the only quarterback to do so for the 2016 season. On the season, he threw a pass to an NFL-record 13 different receivers.[194] Ryan was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl and was named First-team All Pro.[195] Following the regular season, he was recognized as the NFL Most Valuable Player by the Pro Football Writers Association.[196] Ryan was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and the NFL Most Valuable Player for the 2016 season.[197][198] He earned the Bert Bell Award for the 2016 season.[199] He was ranked tenth by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2017.[200]

As the #2-seed in the NFC Playoffs, Ryan led the 11-5 Falcons to a 36-20 home victory over the #3-seed Seattle Seahawks in the Divisional Round.[201] Ryan passed for over 300 yards and had three touchdowns.[202] In the NFC Championship, Ryan led the Falcons to a 44-21 home victory over the Green Bay Packers. Ryan threw for 392 yards for four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for a fifth touchdown, just the fourth player to do so in a post-season game,[203] as the Falcons earned a trip to Super Bowl LI.[204] During the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, Ryan finished with 284 passing yards, two touchdowns, and a lost fumble. Although the Falcons led 28-3, it became the subject of one of the most historic downfalls in sports history as the Falcons lost the Super Bowl 28-34 in overtime.[205][206] Ryan became the first quarterback in franchise history to pass for over 1,000 yards in a single postseason. Of the quarterbacks to achieve the feat, he achieved the highest passer rating, 135.3, and joined Joe Flacco as the only ones to not throw a single interception.[207]

2017 season

Ryan's #2 jersey worn in the Super Bowl LI at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

On September 10, 2017, in the season opening 23-17 victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, Ryan connected with tight end Austin Hooper for an 88-yard touchdown, which was the second-longest touchdown pass of Ryan's career. In the game, Ryan was 21-of-30 for 321 yards and the one touchdown.[208][209] In Week 2, Ryan and the Falcons had their first home game at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Against the Green Bay Packers on NBC Sunday Night Football, Ryan was 19-of-28 for 252 yards and a touchdown, which was thrown to running back Tevin Coleman and the first touchdown ever thrown in the new stadium. The Falcons won by a score of 34-23.[210] In Week 7, in a Super Bowl LI rematch against the New England Patriots, Ryan passed for 233 yards and a passing touchdown to go along with a career-high 37 rushing yards in the 23-7 loss.[211] In Week 10, during a 27-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys, Ryan became the fastest quarterback to throw for over 40,000 passing yards. This was done in 151 games breaking Drew Brees' record which was done in 152 games.[212] In Week 17, after clinching a spot in the playoffs by beating the Carolina Panthers 22-10, Ryan set the record for most passing yards through 10 seasons with 41,796, breaking the record held by Peyton Manning, who had 41,626.[213] Ryan led the Falcons to a road victory against the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round by a score of 26-13.[214] A week later, Ryan passed for 210 yards and one touchdown as the Falcons were beaten by the Philadelphia Eagles 15-10 in the NFC Divisional Round.[215] Ryan was ranked 29th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018.[216]

2018 season

Ryan and his teammates in a game against the Washington Redskins

On May 3, 2018, Ryan signed a five-year, $150 million contract with the Falcons with $100 million guaranteed, making him the first player to average at least $30 million per year.[217] In Week 2, a 31-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers, Ryan recorded two rushing touchdowns (a one-yard score in the third quarter and an eight-yard score in the fourth quarter) for the first time in his professional career. In addition, he had 272 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, and an interception in the win.[218] In Week 3, in a 43-37 overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints, Ryan passed for 374 yards and a career-high five touchdowns.[219] In Week 4, against the Cincinnati Bengals, he had 419 passing yards and three touchdowns in a tough 37-36 loss where the Bengals scored a go-ahead touchdown with seven seconds remaining.[220] In Week 7, against the New York Giants, he had 379 passing yards and one passing touchdown in the 23-20 victory on Monday Night Football.[221] In Week 10, against the Cleveland Browns, he had a career-high 38 completions on 52 attempts for 330 yards and two touchdowns in the 28-16 loss.[222] In Week 12, against the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving, he had 377 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the 31-17 loss.[223] In a Week 14 20-34 loss to the Green Bay Packers, Ryan eclipsed 4,000 yards, becoming the third quarterback in NFL history to reach 4,000 in at least eight consecutive seasons, joining Drew Brees (2006-2017) and Peyton Manning (2006-2014).[224] In Week 15, a 40-14 victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan recorded two passing touchdowns as well as a rushing touchdown, giving him a career-high three rushing touchdowns for the season. In addition, this victory gave Ryan 100 regular season wins, and made Ryan and Thomas Dimitroff only the sixth quarterback-general manager duo to record at least 100 wins together.[225][226] In Week 17, a 34-32 victory of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in addition to passing for 378 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, Ryan recorded his first career reception on a five-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu.[227] With the touchdown reception, Ryan set an NFL record for most passing yards in a game while recording a receiving touchdown.[228]

Ryan finished the 2018 season with 35 passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, and one receiving touchdown, giving him a career-high 39 total touchdowns on the season. In addition, the seven interceptions thrown by Ryan are tied for his career best.[229][230] Despite a losing 7-9 record, Ryan finished with the third most passing yards, tied for the third most passing touchdowns, fourth in completion percentage, and fourth in passer rating. Ryan was named a Pro Bowl alternate for the season, although Ryan declined the invitation upon being selected.[231][232][233] He was ranked 69th by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2019.[234]

2019 season

Ryan (right) during the coin toss before a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019

On March 12, the Falcons restructured Ryan's contract by converting $8.75 million of his base salary into a signing bonus.[235]

In Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings, Ryan completed 33-of-46 passes for 304 yards, two passing touchdowns, and two interceptions in the 28-12 loss.[236] In Week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ryan threw for 320 yards, three touchdowns, and three interceptions as the Falcons won 24-20. On fourth down with two minutes left in the game, Ryan threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones that ended giving the Falcons the late go-ahead score.[237] In Week 3 against the Indianapolis Colts, Ryan threw for 304 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception as the Falcons lost 27-24.[238] In Week 4, in a 24-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans, Ryan passed for 397 yards.[239] In Week 5 against the Houston Texans, Ryan threw for 330 yards, three passing touchdowns, and one interception while adding a rushing touchdown in the 53-32 loss.[240] Ryan became the first Falcon quarterback since Chris Miller in 1990 to pass for over 300 yards and have three passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown in the same game.[241] In Week 6 against the Arizona Cardinals, he passed for 356 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-33 loss.[242] In Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams, Ryan threw for 159 yards and an interception before suffering an ankle injury. Without Ryan, the Falcons lost 37-10.[243]

Ryan was ruled out with an ankle injury in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks, ending Ryan's streak of 154 consecutive regular season games started. The streak was fifth all-time for quarterbacks.[244] Ryan returned from injury in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints and threw for 182 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the 26-9 upset win.[245] In Week 11 against the Carolina Panthers, Ryan threw for 311 yards and a touchdown in the 29-3 win. In the game, Ryan surpassed Warren Moon for the 10th all time passing yards in NFL history.[246][247] In Week 13 against the Carolina Panthers, Ryan threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns, including a career long 93-yard touchdown to Olamide Zaccheaus in the 40-20 win. In the game, Ryan became the 10th quarterback in NFL history to reach 50,000 career passing yards.[248] In Week 15, against the heavily-favored San Francisco 49ers, Ryan helped lead a 29-22 upset victory. In the last moments of the game, Ryan threw a five-yard pass to Julio Jones to go ahead before a defensive score put the game away for good.[249] In Week 16, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Ryan passed for 384 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in the 24-12 victory.[250] In Week 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Ryan threw for 313 yards and a touchdown during the 28-22 overtime win.[251] Ryan finished the 2019 season with 4,466 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions as the Falcons finished with a 7-9 record.[252][253]

2020 season

In Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, Ryan completed 37-of-52 for 450 passing yards, two touchdowns, and an interception in the 25-38 loss. In the game, Ryan surpassed John Elway for the 9th all time passing yards in NFL history.[254] In the loss, Ryan helped lead three different wide receivers (Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage), to surpass 100 receiving yards. It was the first time in franchise history that three different wide receivers hit the mark in the same game.[255] In Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys, Ryan threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns during the 40-39 loss. At one point during the game, Ryan and the Falcons had a 20-point lead, but they still managed to lose the game.[256]

NFL career statistics and accolades

Legend
Led the league
NFL record
AP NFL MVP & OPOTY
Bold Career high

Regular season

General Passing Rushing
Year Team GP GS W-L Comp Att Pct Yds Y/A Y/G TD Int Rate Sck Att Yds Y/A Y/G TD Fum
2008 ATL 16 16 11-5 265 434 61.1 3,440 7.9 215.0 16 11 87.7 17 55 104 1.9 6.5 1 6
2009 ATL 14 14 9-5 263 451 58.3 2,916 6.5 208.3 22 14 80.9 19 30 49 1.6 3.5 1 5
2010 ATL 16 16 13-3 357 571 62.5 3,705 6.5 231.6 28 9 91.0 23 46 122 2.7 7.6 0 4
2011 ATL 16 16 10-6 347 566 61.3 4,177 7.4 261.1 29 12 92.2 26 37 84 2.3 5.3 2 5
2012 ATL 16 16 13-3 422 615 68.6 4,719 7.7 294.9 32 14 99.1 28 34 141 4.1 8.8 1 3
2013 ATL 16 16 4-12 439 651 67.4 4,515 6.9 282.2 26 17 89.6 44 17 55 3.2 3.4 0 5
2014 ATL 16 16 6-10 415 628 66.1 4,694 7.5 293.4 28 14 93.9 31 29 145 5.0 9.1 0 5
2015 ATL 16 16 8-8 407 614 66.3 4,591 7.5 286.9 21 16 89.0 30 36 63 1.8 3.9 0 12
2016 ATL 16 16 11-5 373 534 69.9 4,944 9.3 309.0 38 7 117.1 37 35 117 3.3 7.3 0 4
2017 ATL 16 16 10-6 342 529 64.7 4,095 7.7 255.9 20 12 91.4 24 32 143 4.5 8.9 0 4
2018 ATL 16 16 7-9 422 608 69.4 4,924 8.1 307.8 35 7 108.1 42 33 125 3.8 7.8 3 10
2019 ATL 15 15 7-8 408 616 66.2 4,466 7.3 297.7 26 14 92.1 48 34 147 4.3 9.8 1 9
2020 ATL 1 1 0-1 37 54 68.5 450 8.3 450.0 2 1 98.5 2 1 -1 -1.0 -1.0 0 0
Career 190 190 109-81 4,497 6,871 65.4 51,636 7.5 271.8 323 148 94.6 371 419 1,294 3.1 6.8 9 72

Playoffs

General Passing Rushing
Year Team GP GS W-L Comp Att Pct Yds Y/A Y/G TD Int Rate Sck Att Yds Y/A Y/G TD Fum
2008 ATL 1 1 0-1 26 40 65.0 199 5.0 199.0 2 2 72.8 3 4 6 1.5 6.0 0 1
2010 ATL 1 1 0-1 20 29 69.0 186 6.4 186.0 1 2 69.0 5 1 0 0.0 0.0 0 1
2011 ATL 1 1 0-1 24 41 58.9 199 4.9 199.0 0 0 71.1 2 3 3 1.0 3.0 0 0
2012 ATL 2 2 1-1 54 77 70.1 646 8.4 323.0 6 3 105.2 1 3 9 3.0 4.5 0 1
2016 ATL 3 3 2-1 70 98 71.4 1,014 10.3 338.0 9 0 135.3 8 6 20 3.3 6.7 1 1
2017 ATL 2 2 1-1 43 66 65.2 428 6.5 214.0 2 0 93.5 6 6 5 0.83 5.0 0 0
Career 10 10 4-6 237 351 67.5 2,672 7.6 267.2 20 7 100.8 25 23 43 1.9 4.8 1 6

Awards and honors

NFL records

  • Most regular season wins by a quarterback in his first five seasons: 56 (tied with Russell Wilson)[260]
  • Fastest player to pass for 40,000 yards (151 games)[261]
  • Most consecutive NFL games with at least 200 passing yards (64 games)[262][263]
  • Most passing yards in first 10 years in NFL history (41,796)[213][264]
  • Most passing yards in first 11 years in NFL history (46,720)[265]
  • Most passing yards in first 12 years in NFL history (51,186)[266]

Falcons franchise records

  • Only Falcons quarterback to lead the team to an 8-0 start[267]
  • Most wins in a regular season by a starting quarterback: 13 (2010 and 2012)[268]
  • Fewest interceptions in a regular season by starting quarterback -- 7 (2016 and 2018) (16 starts)[268]
  • Most comeback wins in a single season: 5 (2010) (tied with Steve Bartkowski in 1979)[268][269]
  • Most career quarterback wins: 109 (2008-2019)[270]
  • Completions: career (3,630),[268] season (439 in 2013),[271] game (37 on November 1, 2015 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers),[272] playoffs (194),[273] playoff season (70 in 2016),[274] playoff game (30 on January 20, 2013 against the San Francisco 49ers),[275] rookie season (265 in 2008)[276]
  • Pass Attempts: career (5,157),[268] season (651 in 2013),[271] playoffs (285),[273] playoff season (98 in 2016),[274] rookie season (434 in 2008)[276]
  • Passing Yards: career (38,568),[268] season (4,944 in 2016),[271] game (503 on October 2, 2016 against the Carolina Panthers),[272] playoffs (2,244),[273] playoff season (1,014 in 2016),[274] playoff game (396 on January 20, 2013 against the San Francisco 49ers),[275] rookie season (3,440 in 2008)[276]
  • Passing TDs: career (244),[268] season (38 in 2016),[271] playoffs (18),[273] playoff season (9 in 2016),[274] playoff game (4 on January 22, 2017 against the Green Bay Packers),[275] rookie season (16 in 2008)[276]
  • Passer Rating: career (93.7),[268] season (117.1 in 2016),[271] playoffs (102.4),[273] playoff season (135.3 in 2016),[274] playoff game (144.1 on February 5, 2017 against the New England Patriots),[275] rookie season (87.7 in 2008),[276] rookie game (138.4 on November 2, 2008 against the Oakland Raiders)[277]
  • Sacked: playoffs (19),[273] playoff game (5 on February 5, 2017 against the New England Patriots)[275]
  • Yds/Pass Att: playoffs (7.87),[273] playoff season (10.35 in 2016),[274] playoff game (12.35 on February 5, 2017 against the New England Patriots),[275] rookie season (7.93 in 2008)[276]
  • Pass Yds/Game: career (266),[268] season (309 in 2016),[271] rookie season (215 in 2008)[276]
  • 300+ yard passing games: career (45),[278] season (8 in 2012 & 2016),[279] playoffs (3),[280] rookie season (2 in 2008)[281]
  • 4,000+ passing yard seasons: career (9)[282]

Personal life

Ryan, the third of four siblings, was born to Bernice (née Loughery) and Michael Ryan, both Roman Catholics of Irish descent.[283] One of Ryan's uncles, John Loughery, played quarterback at Boston College from 1979-82.[4] Ryan is an avid golfer and has participated in such tournaments as the American Century Celebrity Golf Classic.[284] His cousin, Mike McGlinchey, played college football at Notre Dame and later was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2018.[285]

He is part of the Falcons' online reading program, "Read with a Falcon," and grew up a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.[286]

On November 21, 2017, Ryan announced on social media that he and his wife Sarah were expecting twins.[287] In 2018, Sarah announced the birth of their twins, Marshall and Johnny.[288][289]

On January 9, 2019, Ryan made a cameo appearance on the series premiere of ABC's Schooled, and his high school athletic career is also explored in the series.[290]

In June 2020, Ryan donated $500,000 to a GoFundMe that he started to help advance the lives of people in the black community of Atlanta.[291]

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