Monday, April 28, 2008

Three Final Thoughts on Matt Ryan

1. By drafting Ryan, the Falcons are falling back into the exact same trap they faced with Mike Vick. With Vick, the Falcons faced the problem that they had committed a huge amount of money, including an enormous signing bonus, to a player who produced decent, but not outstanding results. The team was paying Vick to be Brady or Manning, but he was far short of that level. The Falcons could only win with Vick if they surrounded him with great talent, but Vick's cap number, combined with less than stellar drafting from Rich McKay, prevented that possibility.

With Ryan, the Falcons are going to pay an arm and a leg for a quarterback who will almost certainly not produce initially (rookie quarterbacks so rarely do) and whose upside is almost certainly not Brady/Peyton Manning and very likely isn't Roethlisberger/Eli Manning. Even if Ryan turns into a pretty good quarterback, he's going to be paid like a star, which means the Falcons are right back at square one. And that analysis ignores the opportunity cost involved with passing on an excellent defensive tackle to take a decent quarterback.

2. Ryan is not coming into a good situation with the Falcons. Leaving aside the mediocre receiving corps and substandard offensive line, Falcons fans are not happy with the drafting of Ryan. Speaking in broad stereotypes (always a recipe for disaster), the Falcons' fan base is primarily composed of two groups. The first group are African-Americans, some of whom still like Mike Vick and most of whom are well aware of the racial coding that goes on when the media slobbers all over Ryan for being a "leader" and "polished." They aren't going to be overly excited for a great white hope, given the circumstances. The second group are college football fanatics who view Falcons games as dessert after the main course on Saturday. (I would put myself in this group. I would also assert that there isn't tremendous overlap between group one and group two because college football unfortunately tends to be a white sport, especially in the South. I digress.) Southern college football fans, almost universally, view Ryan as an average college quarterback who has been hyped beyond his merits because he played in the Northeast. This group is also not happy with the Ryan selection.

Whereas most top five picks are greeted with unabashed, oft-irrational enthusiasm by the fans of the teams that draft them, Ryan is not going to get the same love in Atlanta. Atlanta fans tend to be a lot more positive and forgiving than, say, Philly fans, but the particulars of Ryan's drafting mean that he is going face an especially empathetic fan base. This is why the purported rationale of the Falcons to take Ryan for marketing purposes is so weak. I am promising myself that I am going to root for Ryan, even if his success will mean that I will be spectacularly wrong about the decision to pick him, but my leash will be short. OK, that's a bad choice of words when discussing a Falcons QB.

3. Steak Shapiro was, as one could expect, insufferable this morning when discussing the Ryan pick. He was totally dismissive of the idea that Arthur Blank had anything to do with the selection, even while admitting that Blank wanted the Falcons to take Ryan. Gee, if the managing partner of my firm didn't order me to take a particular course in a case, but expressed an opinion that I should do something, do you think I might do it? Steak then naturally started his defense of the Ryan selection with the subjective analysis that most support of Ryan takes. He cited his "leadership," as if players are going to follow a young quarterback if that quarterback doesn't produce on the field. For the cherry on top of the sundae, Steak was mortified when a caller compared the pick to David Carr and pointed out that Ryan just wasn't that good in college. His two defenses:

a. Ryan's 67% completion percentage. For the record, Steak, Ryan completed 59.3% of his passes last year, not that it's your job to know about sports or anything. Maybe you picked the wrong name for the bar your station partnered.

b. Ryan played well against Georgia Tech. So did Sean Glennon (22/32, 296 yards, 9.3yards per attempt, 2 TDs, no picks) and I'm not going out on a limb by saying that Glennon isn't going to be a top five pick in the Draft any time soon. Ryan was poor for 115 of the 120 minutes he played against Virginia Tech and just about the entire game against Florida State. I would say that he ran up his numbers against bad teams, but he was mediocre against N.C. State and UMass. I guess BC's receivers must have been so bad that they couldn't get open against the Minutemen.


chg said...

I'm even less interested in Ryan because of his "leadership" and "intangibles." The Falcons went from pandering to their black fans to pandering to white fans. They just did a laughably bad job of it.

JR Suicide said...

i don't think a pick has ever made me as angry my entire life. i haven't cursed and screamed that much in years. regardless it wasn't only that the Ryan picked sucked so was all the picks. what a lousy collection of reaches and players i've never heard of. and way to give up the 2 second rounders for an injury prone tackle...two picks that came from Schuab and Hall. so we essentially traded a probowl corner and the guy who SHOULD be our starting QB for a tackle who might have still been available in the 2nd round. why? why are the Falcons so dumb? i'm never shopping at Home Depot again.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree one second with your assesment of the physical traits of Ryan. I also agree with the thoughts on the social dynamic of the fan base.

I'll raise a hypothetical to you: Do you give any thought to Dorsey's injury and the chance that he might be damaged goods? It's likely Ryan will sit for a minimum of half a season before playing; perhaps even longer. The fact that NFL O-lines will be cutblocking Dorsey from moment one and he'd be a starter from moment one might have weighed heavily on Dimitroff's mind.

<< re-upping on season tickets

Anonymous said...

The best parts of this post have nothing to do with Matt Ryan-- let the guy play and let's judge him in three years.

As for the black/white dynamic, I think its a cogent talking point, but nothing brand new for us growing up in the south. In fact, I think you are actually digging too deep on the vick/ryan comparisons.

Race is always a factor in the South (even when its not). But isn't it possible that both Vick and Ryan were drafted because of their respective talents and not overt marketability? Perhaps you are right, perhaps Ryan was drafted as the great white hope.

But I just don't think Dimitroff made the move down here to die a slow and painful, sweet-tea style death. The guy wants to win and if you had as much negotiating power for your job as he did when he came down, you might have more autonomy than your above example.

Anyway-- who knows how good Ryan will be? Surely not you. And especially not Steak! But I see that you have a forum to put down your predictions, which is pretty cool in itself. And I duly note that you are anti-Ryan (in theory).

BTW, are your parents or grandparents from the South? Although I love your blog, and the depth & breadth of your analysis and coverage, I feel like your love of Dylan gives you away ;)

So... what generation Georgian are you? I am 8th. LOL-- feel sorry for me. Please.

Stephen Wong said...

I totally agree with Neil & Geraldo. Lets give Ryan a shot and see what we have in three years. Lets be honest here and get it out that the Falcons are at least three years away from being anywhere close to a contender. Next year should net us a few more top players. New Orleans looks like the dominant force in the South for the forseeable future, and nabbing Vilma and Gay in the offseason only adds to that.

My problem is not necessarily that we went after Ryan. My problem is what we did AFTER that (meaning drafting all those lbs and safeties). I'm like almost everyone else in Atlanta, I would have loved to see Dorsey stuff the middle and wreak havoc on opposing RBs. But let me just say that if I were to rank QBs in this particular draft, Ryan would have been at the top. He looks and feels like another Matt Schaub, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Additionally, I wish people would read up on the Sam Baker trade before ranting. We didn't give up two 2nd rounders for a 1st, we exchanged a 2nd, 2nd, and 4th for a 1st, 3rd and 5th.

I think the race thing is way overplayed at this point. And while I don't doubt Blank loved the Ryan pick, I honestly believe he was hands off in the draft. Blank's no idiot, he knows where his strengths are and where the strength of his GM and head coach are, he's a CEO not a tyrant.

So...would I have loved to see us draft Dorsey, then trade up for a good o-lineman, and use our last second rounder for someone like Brohm? Definitely. But then again, there are worse things than us giving the reigns to Matt Ryan for a few years.

Michael said...

NY&G, I don't think that Blank ordered the pick or anything like that. I think he simply had an opinion and Dimitroff is too young and new in his position to not take his boss's opinion seriously. Blank clearly has the best of intentions and isn't trying to call all the shots like Jerry Jones or Daniel Snyder, but he's still involved in the process and his involvement has to have effects. I heard a rumor yesterday that Blank is friends with Sam Baker's Dad. If so, then exhibit B of involvement.

I'm a first generation Southerner. We moved to Georgia from Pittsburgh when I was nine. My family are Eastern European Jews, but way of South Africa. So I guess I'm southern in a manner os speaking...