Matt Ryan Overlooked on New AFC Quarterback Rankings

Matt Ryan

Getty Indianapolis Colts quarterback Matt Ryan did not receive a lot of respect on a new list of the top AFC signal callers.

The Indianapolis Colts upgraded their quarterback, acquiring Matt Ryan in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons during March. But members of the media continue to debate how big of an upgrade Ryan will be this season for the Colts.

Sports writer Cody Benjamin of CBS Sports wrote that Ryan being an upgrade in Indianapolis “says more about their annual state of QB affairs than it does Ryan’s present talent.” Benjamin also ranked Ryan 10th among the 16 quarterbacks in the AFC entering the 2022 season.

“At 37, coming off three straight years of so-so play for mediocre Falcons teams, he seems a bit more deflated physically than, say, Matthew Stafford, who got a similarly beneficial relocation from his original team in 2021,” wrote Benjamin.

On Benjamin’s AFC quarterbacks list, Ryan was not ranked ahead of a single veteran. The signal callers behind Ryan on Benjamin’s list were Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa, Kenny Pickett, Zach Wilson and Davis Mills.

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Matt Ryan Past His Prime?

Benjamin has an argument for Ryan being ranked outside the top half on a list of the AFC’s top 16 quarterbacks. First, the AFC is stacked with great quarterbacks at the moment, and Ryan saw his statistics decline in 2021.

For the first time in 11 years, Ryan did not throw for 4,000 yards last season. He also had just 20 touchdown passes, which was tied for his lowest total since his rookie season. Ryan posted these low marks despite having an extra regular season game to accumulate stats in 2021.

On the surface, Ryan appears to be in decline. But that’s not taking into account what the Falcons surrounded their quarterback with last year.

The Falcons traded Julio Jones last June and then lost his replacement, Calvin Ridley, for all but five games in 2021. Furthermore, Atlanta was ranked second-to-last in rushing yards, and Pro Football Focus ranked the Falcons offensive line second-to-last in pass blocking.

The Colts should be able to supply Ryan a lot more offensive support. That could mean a better stat line for Ryan this season.


What the Colts Need at Quarterback to Win in 2022

Benjamin did not address the issues the Falcons offense had last year that could have contributed to Ryan looking past his prime, but he did admit that the Colts don’t necessarily need elite quarterback play to be a contender in the AFC.

“But in Indy, all the Colts really need is more stability — an efficient, experienced enough arm to guide their Jonathan Taylor-led offense,” Benjamin wrote. “And he should be able to provide that. If the defense is elite, maybe he’s got a surprise run left.”

In addition to an elite defense and running game, the Colts also aren’t in a division with strong quarterback play. Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was ranked ahead of Ryan on Benjamin’s list, but by only one spot at No. 9.

Half of the other eight quarterbacks ahead of Ryan on Benjamin’s list were from the AFC West and three others were from the AFC North. The other was Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills.

Even if Ryan doesn’t play like a top eight quarterback in the AFC this fall, the Colts can still win their division and go on a playoff run.

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