If there is one number that Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hopes to reverse, it is the zero in the postseason win column.
Ryan, who is 0-3 in three career post-season games, hopes to reverse his post-season fortunes against a very dangerous Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round.
While there is little questions as to Ryan’s regular-season brilliance, as he would help guide the Falcons to the NFC’s top record by posting career-highs in yards(4,719), completion percentage(68.1%), touchdowns(32) and passer rating (99.1).
In the NFL, as in life, it is what you do in the end, that you will most be remembered for.
For his career, Ryan has a passer rating of 90.9, a completion percentage of 62.7 percent and a TD-INT ratio of +67 of 127 touchdowns and 57 interceptions.
In the postseason, Ryan’s numbers take a proverbial nosedive to the tune of mediocre.
Despite having a higher completion percentage of 64.1 in the postseason, Ryan has averaged a pedestrian 194.6 yards passing, a TD-INT ratio of –1, of three touchdowns to four interceptions and a passer rating of 70.9
One can make the argument that two of Ryan’s three playoff games were on the road, both coming against against the eventual Super Bowl XLIII runner-up Arizona Cardinals in 2008—his first-ever playoff start—and the Super Bowl XLVI champion New York Giants in 2011.
Ryan, who would be named the 2008 AP NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year, would be sacked three times and throw three interceptions in a 30-24 defeat against the Cardinals.
In 2010, Ryan had the misfortune of playing a very hot Green Bay Packers team and eventual NFL—and Super Bowl MVP—in Aaron Rodgers at home in the Georgia Dome. In a 48-21 loss, Ryan would be sacked five times, hit another six times and throw two interceptions
In 2011, against the Giants and their relentless pass rush, Ryan would be sacked two times, and battered another seven times during a 24-2 loss.
With such lackluster performances in the playoffs, is it fair to label Ryan a playoff choke artist?
No. not really.
Once again, while numbers never lie, one can also look at the Falcon’s suspect offensive and defensive lines in putting Ryan in a position to play catch up and become a easy target for opposing defenses, as it is hard to complete a pass lying on the ground.
Ryan’s three opponents in the post-season in Green Bay, New York and Arizona have sacked him a combined ten times, an average of almost four a game.
With due respect, it is really hard for a quarterback, whether you are an elite franchise quarterback like Ryan or a second-stringer to be effective when you do not have time to go through your proper progressions and find a open receiver.
As much as Ryan is criticized for his post-season failings, it is not fair that Atlanta’s offensive line gets a free pass either.
On Sunday, Ryan will face another team in the Seahawks that has a aggressive pass rush at home, while Seattle may have momentum after an impressive win against the Washington Redskins, Ryan has the look of a man on a mission to not only silence the many detractors, but to finally get off the proverbial schneid.
If there is a time for Ryan to do so, Sunday’s matchup is an prime opportunity to do so.
Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at [email protected] and follow the Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber