Last season Falcons wide receiver Roddy White was among those mentioned as the season ended for the league's MVP, the award given to the player a team could least afford to be without.
This season Matt Ryan is generating some whispers as a darkhorse candidate and after his first-half performance last week against the Steelers, it's understandable.
Against one of the toughest defenses in the league, Ryan passed the ball, seemingly at will, up and down the field and afterwards all he could say was he had some work to do. One of our favorite websites at AtlantaFalcons.com is Pro Football Focus, a group that examines every play of every game, every season. As far as I'm concerned, whatever they say goes.
They had this to say about Ryan's performance against the Steelers (try to overlook the part about Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger): "These two teams are among the Super Bowl favorites and rightly so. Both defenses are good but the starting quarterbacks ripped them to shreds. "
PFF just happens to love Ryan, which is a good sign as the QB enters his fourth season in the league, a year closely associated with an atmospheric-like rise in young quarterback production. With the addition of new weapons to an offense that Ryan appears completely in control of, Atlanta's offense seems poised to take a step toward elite status.
So if all that happens, it's not out of the realm of possibility that when this is all said and done, Ryan and MVP will be mentioned at the same time. Check the last few signal callers that won the award and that's some pretty nice company for Ryan to keep.
An MVP wins games for his teams and does little to make his team lose. That's been the definition of Ryan thus far in his career and against a tough schedule this season, he could be ready to step into the top class of quarterbacks, all of them considered top MVP candidates each season.
In PFF's preseason preview of the Falcons, they shared a statement that fairly sums up why Ryan should be a candidate for years to come: "Atlanta will always have a chance if they get the ball in Ryan's hands when the game is on the line."
Most Valuable Players rarely come from losing teams and with Ryan in the picture for the league's top award each season, things are looking pretty promising for the Falcons. If Ryan's in the MVP picture, the Falcons will almost certainly be in a good place.