A 4-12 season usually means there are a few offseason changes coming for a football team. That may be the case for the 2013 Falcons, but one thing that won’t be changing as the Falcons begin to prepare for next season is their quarterback. Despite troubles in protection that plagued Ryan and the passing game all season, the sixth-year QB finished in the top five in the league in completion percentage.
Three quarterbacks finished with better completion percentages this season among passers that attempted 500 passes or more. San Diego’s Philip Rivers, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Denver’s Peyton Manning were those three quarterbacks, all QBs with teams in the playoffs. Ryan’s 67.4 completion percentage in 2013 was just a notch behind Manning’s 68.3.
Ryan attempted the second-most passes in 2013 (651), just a few behind Manning’s 658 and one more than Brees. Ryan’s 439 completions were third in the league behind Manning and Brees. The Falcons quarterback accomplished this while being sacked a career-high 44 times, tied for third-most in the league. His previous high was 28 last season.
When asked earlier this week what players excelled during this difficult season, head coach Mike Smith immediately pointed to the man under center.
“I think that our quarterback played extremely well throughout the season,” Smith said. “He was very accurate. When he had time to throw the football, he had games where he was above 75 percent in his completion percentage. I think that he played well.”
Last season Ryan was tied for the league lead with a 68.6 percent completion percentage and this year marks the fourth consecutive year Ryan’s finished with a completion percentage above 60 percent. In 2013, Ryan had eight games with 70 percent accuracy or better, a career high. Last season he completed 70 percent or better in seven games. His previous high was four games in 2008.
When Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and Smith held their season-ending press conference, the offensive line and its improvement was a talking point and it’s clear that area will be addressed. Once it is, Ryan will still be one of the most efficient passers in the league with the protection to make him even better.