Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: What's the plan for life after Ryan?

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The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter chats with CineSport’s Noah Coslov about whether Matt Ryan still gives the Falcons the best chance to win and what has changed since the Week 8 loss to the Bucs.

1. WHAT'S THE POST RYAN PLAN?: Matt Ryan, who's under contract through the 2018 season and owed $50.75 million in base salaries, is not going to play forever.

Ryan is set to make $15.75 million in base salary in 2016, $15.75 million in 2017 and $19.25 million in 2018.

The Falcons must start thinking about the future and based on the poor quarterback play around the league, they'll need to draft his successor in the upcoming draft or in 2017 in order for him to serve an old-school apprenticeship. It's clear that it still takes awhile to develop quarterbacks, despite Ryan's and Joe Flacco's rapid success.

Denver's Brock Osweiler was drafted in the second round (57th overall) in 2012. After studying under Peyton Manning, he appeared to have a clue while out-gunning Tom Brady on Sunday night.

Too many of the quarterbacks are being thrown on the field too early and are failing miserably.

2. THE PACKER PLAN: Former Packers general manager Ron Wolf (1991-2001) drafted quarterbacks six times. They were developed and then shipped off for draft picks. The list include Mark Brunnell, Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks.

So even if Ryan finds his swagger again and plays past 34, the Falcons could develop the replacement and trade him. Draft another one.

The Falcons did this when they had Michael Vick and drafted Matt Schaub. Once Schaub was developed, they traded him to Houston. However, if they knew a federal dogfighting investigation was looming, they would have kept Schaub.

3. TOP QUARTERBACKS FOR 2016 DRAFT:  Memphis' Paxton Lynch, California's Jared Goff, Michigan State's Connor Cook and Ohio State's Cardale Jones. Lynch, Goff and Jones would have to declare early for the draft.

Jones is nicknamed 12-guage for his powerful arm. Him throwing deep to Julio Jones might be unstoppable and uncoverable.

4. TOP QUARTERBACKS FOR THE 2017 DRAFT: Lynch, Goff and Jones if they stay in school along with Penn State's Chris Hackenberg and Cincinnati's Gunner Kiel.

5. TOP QUARTERBACK FOR THE 2018 DRAFT: Clemson's Deshaun Watson of Gainesville, a former Falcons' ballboy, will be the top-rated quarterback in this group.

6. HISTORY IN THE MAKINGS: The Falcons, under first-year head coach Dan Quinn, are in the midst of a potentially historic collapse.

After starting the season 5-0, they are now 6-5 after dropping five of six games and are in danger of not making the playoffs.

Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, 66 of 72 teams (91.7 percent) that started 5-0 went on to make the playoffs, according to STATS research.

If the Falcons, who play at Tampa Bay (5-6) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, can’t fix their turnover woes and quarterback Matt Ryan can’t shake his slump, the Falcons could become the seventh team not to make the playoffs after starting the season 5-0.

If the playoffs started today, the Falcons would not qualify. They are tied with Seattle (6-5), which has a tiebreaker advantage (better conference record) over the Falcons.

The only teams that did not make the playoff after starting 5-0 were:

Year Team                                Start             Final      Coach

2009 Denver Broncos                 5-0         8-8     Josh McDaniels

2009 New York Giants                5-0         8-8     Tom Coughlin

2003 Minnesota Vikings              5-0         9-7     Mike Tice

1993 New Orleans Saints             5-0         8-8     Jim Mora

1978 Washington Redskins            5-0         8-8    Jack Pardee

1974 New England Patriots           5-0         7-7     Chuck Fairbanks

7. FALCONS IMPRESSED WITH BRIDGEWATER: Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is now 2-0 against the Falcons. He beat them on Sunday 20-10 and last season, 41-28, in his NFL debut.

“He’s a good quarterback," Falcons cornerback Robert Alford said. "Coming into his draft class, I think he was the No. 1 rated quarterback. He’s a good quarterback."

8. TAMPA BAY REMIX: Here's what was written after the 23-20 loss to Tampa Bay in overtime in Week 8.

"In a game marred by several blunders, the Falcons were defeated by the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20 in overtime before 70,524 disappointed fans at the Georgia Dome on Sunday.

"Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he wants his team to be “the best fundamental team in football.” The Falcons came up woefully short of that standard as they committed four turnovers and continue to misfire in the red zone."

They Falcons could only muster three points out of two trips inside the Buc's 5-yard line, center Mike Person had the errant shot gun snap and Ryan and Freeman mishandled the ball on a handoff.

That game was a week after the 10-7 win over Tennessee and started the recent four-game skid.

9. DEPTH CHART: Here's the official depth chart. The Falcons will have to make a move later in the week if they activate Devin Hester from the  short-term injured reserve list.


MINNESOTA GAME COVERAGE -- Vikings 20, Falcons 10

5 things we learned from the 20-10 loss to the Vikings

What the Falcons had to say after the loss

12 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' loss

Ryan goes into detail about his interceptions

Quarter-by-Quarter: How the Falcons lost 20-10 to the Vikings

White feels team got complacent after 5-0 start

Falcons rookie Coleman fumbles again

Falcons defense pulling its weight

Falcons fans jeer Ryan after his second interception


5 things we learned in the Falcons' 23-20 loss to the Bucs

How the Falcons lost to the Bucs in OT

10 comments from Dan Quinn after the loss to the Bucs

Adams disagreed with overtime pass interference call

Matt Ryan's miscues help to gift the Bucs' 20 points

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons were saying after the 23-20 loss to the Bucs

Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston bests his role model: 'Mr. Ryan'

Falcons defense holds up, but forces no turnovers

Falcons rallied behind wide receiver Julio Jones

Bucs rookie linebacker Alexander dedicates win to deceased brother



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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.