• 10 years later: Matt Ryan still taking Falcons to new heights

    By: Wilton Jackson

    Updated:

    ATLANTA - Coming off a 4-12 season in 2007, the Atlanta Falcons were in need of a lot of help, particularly at the quarterback, defensive line, offensive line and linebacker positions.

    With the third selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected a quarterback from Boston College.

    His name was Matt Ryan.

    In his rookie season, Ryan threw for 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Falcons finished the 2008 campaign at 11-5 and lost to the Arizona Cardinals in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs under then head coach Mike Smith.

    In his rookie season, Ryan, also known as "Matty Ice," was named the 2008 NFL Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year and named to the NFL All-Rookie Team.


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    Over the next four seasons, the Falcons made it to the postseason three out of four times. 

    Following that four-year span, the Falcons finished with back-to-back losing seasons in 2013 and 2014 before head coach Dan Quinn’s era began in 2015, when the Falcons finished 8-8. 

    In 2016, Ryan arguably had one of his best years of his career, throwing for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Not to mention, he led the Falcons past the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers in the playoffs to play in Super Bowl LI, a Super Bowl that will be remembered as one of the biggest second-half declines in NFL history.

    Despite losing the Super Bowl and dealing with the infamous “28-3” blown lead against the New England Patriots, the 2016 season was surely a decorated one for the native of Exton, Pennsylvania.

    Ryan was named the 2016 NFL AP Most Valuable Player, 2016 NFL Pro Football Writers of America Most Valuable Player, the 2016 NFL Bert Bell Award (Player of the Year) and 2016 NFL AP Offensive Player of the Year.

    Ten years have flown by the record-setting quarterback.

    With 2018 NFL Draft only days away, Ryan gears up for his 11th season, one in which Matty Ice looks to redeem himself from the 2017 campaign, where he threw for 4,095 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Ryan’s 20 touchdowns were his lowest recorded number of touchdowns since his rookie season.

    More importantly, Ryan hopes to put the Falcons back in position to compete for a Super Bowl on his own turf at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. 

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