While there have been three Falcons players listed on NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2012 there's been one notable exception: quarterback Matt Ryan.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal recently pondered Ryan's absence in light of two QB inclusions the list, Michael Vick and Phillip Rivers. Ryan, after four years, figures to be on or close to the level of Vick and Rivers in the league, yet he's been left off the list. With players 60-51 announced on Wednesday, it's likely that Ryan's chances have showing up on the list have diminished.
Ryan was ranked No. 52 on last year's list, but this year's tally is a little different. It's produced by voting from players, unlike in the past.
Rosenthal thinks Atlanta's last appearance, the playoff loss to New York, plays a role in Ryan's lack of votes from his peers.
"Players also vote on the poll after the season is over, and the memory of Atlanta's playoff stinkbomb in New York was fresh in the minds of those voters," Rosenthal wrote. "There is a sense that Ryan is a very good quarterback that hasn't significantly taken a step forward the last few years."
Atlanta's tight end Tony Gonzalez' appearance at No. 53 is almost as interesting as Ryan's lack of appearance. Though Gonzalez had a year in 2011 that was very good, performances by younger tight ends around the league took the spotlight away from the ageless wonder that is Gonzalez.
His peers obviously have a tremendous amount of respect for what he does on the football field and it shows with his ranking. The votes are based on last year's stats and performances only and is considered a projection for the best players in the coming season. That bodes well for Gonzalez.
As for Ryan, the elusive playoff win seems to be all that is holding him back from earning more of the praise his numbers suggest he deserves. He was once a young on-the-verge player, but, as Rosenthal says, as his career has progressed, "more is expected of him."
The continuation of NFL Network's Top 100 Players of 2012 can be seen Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET with a reaction show to follow each episode.