To say it didn’t go exceedingly well for Arthur Smith’s team would be an understatement. Atlanta fell down by the score of 13-0 at halftime with its offense putting up a total of 64 yards in those first two quarters.
When all was said and done, Atlanta lost by the score of 25-0. Adding insult to injury, Ryan himself dealt with injuries to both his ankle and shoulder during the game and was eventually replaced by Josh Rosen under center with the game out of hand.
Reality now has to be setting in for Ryan as he finishes up his 14th season with the Falcons. They now sit at 4-6 and pretty much completely out of the NFC Playoff race. Could this be the end of Ryan’s tenure in Atlanta? Below, we look at why that makes the most sense.
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons were already headed for a divorce
Earlier in the season, Ryan talked to Sportsnaut’s “Mano A Mano” about his tenure in Atlanta. In the process, he had absolutely nothing but great things to say about the organization and the city.
“You know, from the top down, (owner) Arthur Blank has been unbelievable to me my entire career. I am thankful that I was drafted here,” Ryan told Sportsnaut. “I ended up in a building which is a great place to be a part of. It’s a great place to live. My family and I like it here. It’s the right place for us. I believe we have the right guys to win. And I want to do it here.”
This could very well be similar to Matthew Stafford’s departure from the Detroit Lions after 12 seasons. While Ryan has enjoyed much more success than his counterpart, there’s something to be said about a relationship having to come to an end.
Atlanta is closer to a full-scale rebuild than it is to contention for a playoff spot. At 36 years old, we’re not sure Ryan will even be playing once the Falcons return to relevance. It’s possible to move on from a situation while still holding your former city and bosses in high regard. If Tom Brady can do it, anyone can.
Better opportunities for Matt Ryan elsewhere
There’s also something to be said about a veteran of Ryan’s ilk enjoying playoff contention as he enters the twilight of his career.
It’s in this that there are multiple teams out there who are in a better position to contend with better quarterback play. We’re not 100% sure how the Baker Mayfield situation is going to play out in Cleveland. But the former No. 1 pick is having a down season en route to leading his Browns to a pedestrian 5-5 record. With a championship-caliber roster, adding an upgrade like Ryan under center could take this squad to the next level.
Remaining in the AFC, it’s hard to conclude that the Denver Broncos don’t boast an elite-level defense and one of the top receiving groups in the NFL. With Teddy Bridgewater under center, it’s primarily been about the quarterback position in the Mile High City. Ryan would change that.
We can go up and down the line. The Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers would all be seen as legit playoff teams with better quarterback play. Don’t think for a second this is lost on Matt Ryan.
Botton line: Ending the relationship on a high note
First-year Falcons head coach Arthur Smith might have success in Atlanta. Rookie tight end Kyle Pitts looks to be a generational talent at that position. These are the two core individuals the Falcons should start anew with a rebuild.
From there, it’s all about general manager Terry Fontenot finding that franchise quarterback to help rebuild the organization.
As for Ryan, he’d still be remembered as a lifelong Falcon. Once he does head to Canton, it will be all about showing love for the organization. In no way does that mean he should waste away during the twilight of his career.