Ryan is 56-22 in the regular season. He has won more games than any other quarterback after five seasons. His winning percentage of .718 from 2008-12 is exceeded only by Brady (50-15, .769) and Peyton Manning (49-15, .766). But he is 1-4 in the postseason.
What’s the more accurate measuring stick going forward?
“Normally I’m sure there would be trepidation,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said after Thursday’s news conference. “But in this case we truly believe Matt is the total package for us — the importance of him being our team’s best leader, the way he operates off the field, the way he spins the ball and operates on the field. So there’s no trepidation. It’s big money, but we’re comfortable.”
Dimitroff said the decision to give Ryan a deal of this size “isn’t just about him winning a playoff game. It was about how he continued to grow and operate and evolve in this league.”
Ryan said if the money causes expectations to rise externally, that’s not the case with him. “My goal and my mindset has been the same since 2008,” he said. “It’s about winning a championship and getting rings.”
They made the right decision five years ago. Where would the Falcons have been had they drafted LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, the favorite of seemingly most fans and media?
Dorsey, taken fifth overall by Kansas City, has four sacks in five years and has been a bust, relative to his draft position. Ryan has been picked for two Pro Bowls and elevated a franchise stuck in the post-Vick, post-Bobby Petrino muck.
Dimitroff: “Suffice to say, I’m glad we didn’t go defensive tackle.”
If Dorsey seemed like the safer choice, it was because so many feared another disastrous ending at quarterback. Which brings us to Vick, and the last time they were at this point.
The Falcons took a similar financial leap nine years ago. They had watched Vick, their wonderful new quarterback turn around a franchise, engineer a playoff upset in Green Bay and sell out stadiums and racks of jerseys.
The owner, Arthur Blank, slid the $130 million contract across the table. Almost everybody gulped. But Blank, reflecting the giddiness in the organization at the time, didn’t blink. He told a story about a conversation he had with Vick the previous summer.
“I said, ‘Michael, you understand that the only way you’ll leave Atlanta will be in a box,’” Blank recalled then. “And I said, ‘Coming from New York, you understand what I’m talking about.’”
And everybody laughed. Nobody figured anything could go wrong, certainly nothing along the lines of barking dogs and black-painted sheds behind the beautiful home on Moonlight Road in Surry County, Va. Vick didn’t leave Atlanta in a box, but he did leave in handcuffs.
With Ryan nearing the end of his contract, Blank didn’t blink again. He couldn’t. If he paid over market value for Ryan, it wasn’t by much. But there is an obvious expectation level built into $59 million guarantees and $20.75 million package averages.
At one point Thursday, Blank said,“I’ve said many times, I’m not going to rest really well until we win rings.”
That should be the attitude of most, especially now.