The Falcons are 0-5, but the odds heavily favor Matt Ryan returning as starting quarterback in 2021. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire.
- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is heavily favored at -350 to return as the team’s starting QB in 2021
- The franchise just parted ways with head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff
- Atlanta is currently one of three winless teams in the NFL — joining the New York Jets and New York Giants
While the 2020 season has been a nightmare for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, he’s still the odds-on favorite to return as the team’s starter next season at -350.
As the face of the franchise since being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, the Boston College alum has seen plenty of ups and downs. But following Week 5’s 23-16 home loss to Carolina, Atlanta may have hit the nadir of his 13-year tenure. Not surprisingly, the franchise parted ways with head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff following the performance.
The loss was just the latest bitter defeat in what has become a lost season for a franchise that was famously minutes away from winning a Super Bowl only four years ago.
With Ryan as the focal point, oddsmakers still believe he will come back next season.
Odds Matt Ryan is the Falcons Starting QB in 2021
Odds taken Oct. 14
Statistically, Ryan has been solid – but not great — in 2020. Ryan threw for 450 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a Week 1 38-25 loss to the Seahawks. He followed that with a four-touchdown outing in that 40-39 Week 2 epic collapse against the Cowboys. And while he’s only thrown two interceptions since, he’s also only thrown one touchdown over the last three weeks.
MATT RYAN IS NOT THE (biggest) PROBLEM. pic.twitter.com/fRFJibfNXj
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) October 13, 2020
His completion percentage is also currently the lowest it’s been since 2011. But his 1,472 yards thrown so far puts him on pace to far exceed his average over the last three years (4,495 yards) and his current 7:3 touchdown-interception ratio is on pace to match his 27:12 ratio average over the last three seasons — when Atlanta compiled a 24-23 record with him as its starting quarterback (Ryan missed the team’s Week 8 loss to the Seattle in 2019).
Matt Ryan’s Key Stats Over Last 3+ Seasons
|Year||Yards Thrown||Completion Percentage||TD Passes||Interceptions|
Statistically, Ryan hasn’t lost a step. And while the team’s 0-5 start has been exceedingly frustrating for Falcons fans, the majority of them would blame the defense — not Ryan. But with the potential of being in line to select Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft, is Ryan expendable?
Ryan has nearly $75 million left on his current deal — a five-year, $150 million extension he signed in May 2018 that included $100 million guaranteed. He’ll count nearly $41 million against the 2021 cap for now, but the Falcons would likely restructure the deal, as they have the past two offseasons. The 35-year-old says he wants to play into his 40s — and he’s proven to be one of the most durable quarterbacks of his generation, only missing three games due to injury over his career.
But owner Arthur Blank was non-committal on Ryan’s future this week, saying “we’ll have to see” and deferring any decisions to Dimitroff and Quinn’s successors. What if Quinn is replaced by current Oklahoma Sooners head coach Lincoln Riley, as the odds suggest?
Will Riley be content with having the veteran as his signal-caller? Or will he want a more mobile quarterback, similar to the trio of Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts he has coached in Norman? As Blank said, we’ll have to see.
Super Bowl 55 Odds Tracker
Lose Forever for Trevor
There’s also a distinct possibility Atlanta might be in line for the No. 1 pick. They’re certainly in line for a top-3 selection based on their current record. It’s also highly doubtful (but possible in the Jets’ case) either New York team moves on from their current quarterback situations so early in the process,
With consensus “Best Quarterback Available” and regional favorite Lawrence an option, would Atlanta move on from Ryan? It’s very possible.
While Ryan doesn’t pose the same health questions Peyton Manning did for Indianapolis in the 2011 offseason, the Colts moved on from the future Hall of Famer when they had a chance to select Andrew Luck with the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
If Atlanta continues to lose with healthy — but very pricey — Ryan and are in the top-3, with an option of trading up to get Lawrence, it wouldn’t be surprising at all.
Ready for a Rebound?
Ryan threw a costly fourth-quarter pick in the end zone against the Panthers this past Sunday. But his current passer rating of 90.2 is in line with his career mark of 94.5. Atlanta could very easily be 3-2 if not for those losses to Dallas, Chicago and Carolina that cost Quinn and Dimitroff their jobs. Even with New Orleans and Tampa Bay in their division, the schedule ahead isn’t particularly daunting. The next four games on Atlanta’s schedule are all winnable.
If Atlanta’s defense can rebound and Ryan continues his steady leadership, while providing a stabilizing force in the locker room, this franchise could easily turn a horrible 2020 season around. And even if they don’t, Ryan has proven he can still win (he owns a 109-85 career record) with a subpar defense.
Atlanta Falcons Defensive Ranks (yards allowed) during Matt Ryan’s 13 year career:
— ✊🏾 ATLANTA ALL DAY ✊🏾 (@BigMoneyATL) October 13, 2020
That said, with all the factors in place, I would suggest it’s a decent investment at +225 to fade Ryan as a complete overhaul could be in the offing for a franchise looking to put the Super Bowl LI debacle completely in its rearview mirror.
Blair Johnson is a veteran journalist and seasoned sports content creator. He has been writing and producing content as long as he can remember, with such familiar names as CNN, NFL Media and Yahoo. Blair currently lives and works in the greater Los Angeles area.