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Defending Ryan


There's at least one member of the NFL media that doesn't believe Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is a winner only in the regular season. Despite Ryan's three losses in three trips to the playoffs during his four years in the league, CBS Sports' Pete Prisco thinks Ryan will prove everyone wrong.

In fact, Prisco thinks some of the comments he's heard about Ryan's perceived inability to win in the postseason are not as big of a deal as they're portrayed to be.

"When a quarterback doesn't get it done in the playoffs, it's on him," Prisco wrote. "That's the nature of the beast. Forget everything else that goes wrong. And when it does happen, it often becomes something that gets blown out of proportion. Don't you remember what they said about Manning after losing his first three playoff games?"

Prisco uses the career arc of Peyton Manning to illustrate his belief that Ryan is just beginning to scratch the surface of his entire potential, especially his playoff potential.

Manning is another quarterback that went 0-for-3 in his first trips to the playoffs, despite playing at a very high level during the regular season.

It's a comparison I helped illustrate last February. In fact, Manning didn't even see the playoffs until his third season in the NFL. His next three appearances were losses, including a 41-0 dismantling by the Jets in 2003. The major point most attempt to make when they compare Ryan to Manning is that early playoff losses don't portray the entire picture of what a quarterback is or will become.

Manning lost his first three but has gone on to win a Super Bowl and is arguably the best pure quarterback in league history. Ryan may not reach those levels, but his early-career playoff losses don't make him a lost cause.

Prisco spoke to Ryan about this and the quarterback shared what his focus is.

"I don't think about it too much," Ryan told Prisco. "My focus is to try to become a better player, doing the things I need to do. It's not about winning playoff games. It's about winning championships."

The addition of new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Prisco thinks, will help Ryan reach new heights. The no-huddle offense that Ryan has repeatedly executed at a high level will be an even larger factor in Koetter's playbook. With the playmakers on offense that Atlanta has and a hurry-up offense controlling the pace of the game, the Falcons and Ryan expect to get over the hump in 2012.

As Ryan points out in the article, 31 teams in the NFL every season turn out to be disappointments. Only one team can win it all and for that reason, in Ryan's eyes, little should be made of the fact that he's not gotten a win yet. But it doesn't stop him from trying harder each season to get that one.

Ryan knows that you can't win a championship unless you win a playoff game first. The plan is place for 2012 to take that first step.

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