When Matt Bryant first arrived in Atlanta, it appeared to be a move that would just settle a shaky kicking situation before the team could find a long-term answer.
That was in Week 13 of the 2009 season and Bryant is still the kicker for the Falcons. He's held onto his job over the last two seasons by simply being one of the best in the business at what he does. A move that appeared to be just a bridge until a younger and better option came along turned out to be one of the most important for the Falcons.
Of the 70 field goals Bryant's attempted since 2009 for the Falcons, he's only missed eight. He's attempted 99 point-afters and has hit every single one. The kicker's value goes well beyond those impressive stats. He didn't just shore up a kicking game that had gone bad three seasons ago, he gave it consistency and reliability. Bryant's conversion percentages are impressive and he's added a few game-winners in there along the way.
Last season, Bryant went streaking to the tune of 30 consecutive made field goals, a streak that began in 2010 and set the franchise record at 27. It was a 41-yarder in Week 10 that did him in. After the streak ended, Bryant closed the season converting 12 of his final 13 field goal opportunities.
Bryant's consistency last season amounted to a 93.1 field goal percentage, the best in the league. Since joining the Falcons in '09, his 88.6 field goal percentage ranks second.
Perhaps an even better way to understand the value Bryant has added to his team is by simply counting points.
The Falcons finished at No. 7 and No. 5 in the league in total points scored in the 2011 and 2010 seasons. In 2010 Atlanta scored a total of 414 points and 402 in 2011.
Between field goals and extra points made, Bryant scored 126 points in 2011 and 128 in 2010. In total, over two seasons, Bryant's 254 points amounted to 31 percent of the Falcons' total points scored.
Most people would agree a player that is nearly flawless in the execution of his job and scores over 30 percent of a team's points is highly valuable.