Matt Ryan’s MVP season

AP Photo/John Amis
AP Photo/John Amis

There aren’t many things Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has done wrong in 2012.

Leading into the season, his critics questioned his arm strength. They didn’t think he was capable of throwing the deep pass. We’ve all seen that debunked in 2012.

He’s extremely dangerous until the last second of the game, proving his heart with a back-from-the-dead victory against the Carolina Panthers in the final seconds of their game in Week 4.

So why wouldn’t Matt Ryan be squarely in the middle of the Most Valuable Player award conversation in 2012?

He certainly has the statistics to back it up. Through 15 weeks, Ryan has thrown for 4,481 yards, 31 touchdowns (tied for a Falcons franchise record, and will likely be broken next week against Tampa Bay) and a quarterback rating of 100.2. In both games where he didn’t throw a touchdown, the Falcons still won the game, proving his defense is capable of picking up the load when he has a less-than-stellar day. And if you take away what was, by far, his worst game of the season — a 5-interception, no-touchdown win over the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 18 — Ryan has only nine interceptions in 14 games.

Oh, and his team is 13-2 and will be the No. 1 seed in the NFC for the playoffs.

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There are other strong candidates for MVP this season: Peyton Manning has been phenomenal in Denver (excluding a horrid performance in Atlanta at the beginning of the season). Aaron Rodgers has the Packers right where they want to be going into the postseason. As always, Tom Brady is Tom Brady, and the Patriots might still break their own record for most points in a single season.

However, the Falcons need Ryan as badly as those teams need their star signal-caller in order to succeed. Matty Ice is the piece that makes the whole machine work.

Only the Lions’ Matthew Stafford has more passing yards than Ryan, while only Rodgers and Drew Brees have thrown more touchdowns. Ryan has completed 69 percent of his passes, which is best among the MVP candidates. And let’s not forget that he has won more games than any other quarterback in the league this season. Successes and failures always fall on the quarterback, and most of these wins have certainly been Ryan’s responsibility (in both of their losses, Ryan threw for at least 340 yards, so he wasn’t exactly horrible in their defeats).

He’d get my vote, that’s for sure.

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