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Next Game’s Revealing Stat: Matt Ryan’s Yards Per Pass

We all have impressions of the quarterback known as Matty Ice. A passer of prodigious yardage, a streaky high percentage thrower, three-time Pro Bowler (2010, 2012, 2014) — but also a guy who disappears in the playoffs.

For you spelling freaks, “Mattie Ice” yields 2.51 million Google results, “Matty Ice” 2.48 million.

In his ninth year in the league, Ryan was the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, and he’s been a starter for the Falcons from day 1. He’s thrown for just over 35,000 yards in that time, whereas Aaron Rodgers, in his nine years as a starter, has thrown for 33,566 yards.

Ryan’s yardage is still there in 2016 – he leads the league in yards (2,348), and is second to Drew Brees in yards per game at 335. At this rate, Ryan would finish the regular season with 5,360 passing yards.

Ryan’s completion percentage is still consistent — at 67.6%, he ranks sixth in the league. This is up a bit from his 64.5 career percentage. Aaron Rodgers’ career percentage is 64.9.

As for yards per pass, up to this year Ryan’s had averaged 7.23 yards per attempt, and he has never before averaged as much as 8 yards. This puts him squarely in the average category — his career mark would tie him for 15th place in the league this year. Up to this year, Ryan was solidly in with the dink-and-dunk crowd, who throw a lot, but mostly the short to medium-range variety.

In 2016, however, Ryan has been throwing and completing the long ball. Averaging 9.62 yards – almost two and a half yards better than his career stat. He ranks second only to Tom Brady, who’s played in just three games.

In large part, this upsurge of big-gainers can be credited to receiver Julio Jones, who is handily leading the league in the number of 20+ yard receptions, with 16. That is more than all the Packers’ receivers combined – Davante Adams has five, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have four each, and Richard Rodgers has one.

Jones is also third in the league with a sparkling 20.8 yards gained per catch. In comparison, Packers receivers’ average yards per catch and league rankings are: Davante Adams, 12.5 and 51st; Jordy Nelson, 11.9 and 64th; Randall Cobb, 9.9 and 97th; and, Ty Montgomery, 8.2 and 125th.

If things hold true to form, Sunday’s game will be a contest of contrasts: the high-flying bomb-throwing Matt Ryan versus the small-ball attack of Aaron Rodgers.

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Rob Born

Someone else said it first but I popularized it: “Athleticism is important in athletic pursuits.” It took three years, but the Packers finally listened. My new mantra: “Trading down is fine, but never trade up.”

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1 Comment

  1. Howard October 27, 2016

    When Smith was the coach of the Falcons he was very conservative. One thing you could do to Ryan and Julio is show clear over the top safety help on Julio. When you did that Ryan was trained to look to the other receivers most of the time. You could get Ryan away from the big play to Julio by defensive alignment. That is why I was pissed in the Atlanta game in 2014. Dix would show he was going to be safety help except he aligned to far to the middle of the field. Made it possible for Ryan to look at Julio rather than look away.

    I don’t believe Ryan is as restricted by the new coaching staff in Atlanta as he was under Smith. With that said I would still show Ryan that there was clear safety help on Julio. If you can get Ryan to look away from Julio a few times a game it is a plus.