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Analyzing Matt Ryan's first year under Arthur Smith, state of Falcons quarterbacks -- Falcons breakdown

Veteran quarterback still performed well despite struggles around him


The Falcons have had stability at the quarterback position most teams only dream about. They've had an upper-tier quarterback in Matt Ryan for 14 straight seasons, someone who is as stable and professional and as productive as it gets.

That was the case again in 2021, where the Falcons increased their win total by three in their first season under head coach/offensive play caller Arthur Smith.


While Ryan has operated with lots of top talent, including Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, he had to do more with a lot less this season. Calvin Ridley wasn't available most of the year, Russell Gage was hurt before a late surge and the run game wasn't particularly strong.

"Matt proved that he didn't have to do it with nothing but first rounders out there," Smith said. "I think that says a lot about a quarterback."

There's logical optimism that Ryan will be better with a stronger roster if one can be assembled this offseason. A succession plan is coming but hasn't been executed yet, with the team's next franchise quarterback likely having yet to take a professional snap.

We'll take a dive into each position group during our Falcons Breakdown, which evaluates each position group and what comes next:

2021 production:

Matt Ryan: 375-for-560, 3,968 yards, 20 TDs, 12 INTs, 7.1 YPA, 90.4 passer rating

Josh Rosen: 2-for-11, 19 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs 1.7 YPA, 0.0 passer rating

Feleipe Franks: 0-for-1, 0 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT; 6 yards on 3 carries

Who stays: Matt Ryan, Feleipe Franks

On the chopping block: Josh Rosen

Biggest offseason question: For many fans, it'll be about whether Matt Ryan will stay or move on for the organization. In my opinion, that's the wrong question to ask. I strongly believe that Ryan deserves to be back in 2022. He's still playing at a high level, will be even better with upgrades around him and that he and Arthur Smith have built a strong working relationship that has improved over time.

Then there’s the matter of his contract, which carries a massive cap number and a large amount of dead money if he's traded, per Will they renegotiate Ryan's deal again? I don't think they will or know if they should. At some point you have to swallow tough pills to get through cap issues.

The biggest question, however, is when the Falcons will add Ryan's successor. Might it be this upcoming draft? I think the Falcons should restock elsewhere and elevate the team around Ryan. That gives them another year to evaluation their overall roster and Ryan himself, while creating a succession plan that serves all parties.

Regarding the other quarterbacks, Franks was used as a versatile weapon and can continue to grow in such a role. It's possible the Falcons move on from Rosen and add another experienced backup. Or they draft a signal caller in the later rounds, develop him and see what comes of it. Or they could bring in another A.J. McCarron type to be a veteran presence in the quarterback room. The Falcons have options with the No. 2 spot.

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