Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Ryan has commanding view atop NFC South

At season’s start, there was a sentiment out there – one, that I must admit, more than once rolled around inside the hollow gourd residing upon my neck – that Matt Ryan was now the fourth best quarterback in a four-quarterback division.

That this once proud masthead of the franchise was yesterday’s flavor, neither flashy enough nor nimble enough keep up with the Newtons and the Winstons in the neighborhood.

The one who’s working on a five-year $103 million deal, surely an anvil that would drag the Falcons back down to dark and familiar depths.

But, whoa, look at the verifiable facts from the first quarter of the season, after action has replaced supposition.

Ryan not only leads the NFC South but all of the NFL in passing yards (1,473) and the comparative measure of passer rating (126.3).

He is spreading the ball around like a late-night TV host dishes out compliments – even on a Sunday when Julio Jones set a franchise receiving yardage record, Ryan found nine other sets of hands.

After very preliminary returns, he is of MVP mettle.

Working with an offensive coordinator who reputedly was speaking ancient Etruscan to him last season, Ryan is coming off the best three-game stretch of his life, highlighted by his 503-yard extravaganza against Carolina Sunday. His QB rating is 27 points higher than that of New Orleans’ Drew Brees. And 46 points higher than his Carolina counterpart, Cam Newton; 53 points higher than his Tampa Bay nemesis, Jameis Winston. The gap is rather yawning.

Here is a quarterback who already has perpetrated eight pass completions of 40 yards or more – two more than the other three NFC South quarterbacks combined.

As a result, predictably, the Falcons have a two game lead over everyone else in their division. That is why quarterbacks make stupid money.

It all can go wrong, of course, should Julio Jones develop a limp or Ryan’s new keystone at center, Alex Mack, go missing. A team remains a very tentative sum of its parts. But here is Ryan showing himself still the quarterback capable of lining up all those parts, doing all the math and arriving at a rather considerable sum.

Ryan’s place in the NFC South quarterbacking food chain is looking somewhat more commanding, don’t you think?

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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.