Thursday, 22 December 2011 09:56
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons: How good is Matt Ryan?
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matt-ryanAs the Atlanta Falcons take on the New Orleans Saints in the Mercedes Benz Superdome on Monday, here's the question--Is Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan among the NFL's top five?

No. Drew Brews, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning comprise a front four unto themselves, and Ben Roethlisberger's two Super Bowl rings make him No. 5. 

 Is Ryan among the NFL's 10 best quarterbacks? 

Absolutely. Behind the top five I'd put him in the second tier of four more or less alongside Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco. (Who fills out the top 10? Maybe Tony Romo. Maybe Matt Schaub  or Matthew Stanford. Maybe in a different year, Michael Vick. 

Ryan's record as a starter is 42-20. 

Saints receiver Lance Moore said Monday night's game against the Falcons is the most important matchup for his team this season."We need this win to stay alive for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs while the Falcons need a victory to get into the playoffs," said Moore Wednesday's media briefing. "As for Drew Brees getting better, with the way he works, he'll get better every year."A few weeks ago Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated examined the career path of four NFL quarterbacks who had early success -- Ryan, Flacco, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman -- and wondered if, because they played in sophisticated college offenses, they arrived in the NFL "with less room to grow." 

Thomas Dimitroff, the Falcons GM, offered Trotter this rather fascinating quote: "There are some very valid levels below that elite quarterback level that can allow organizations to be successful and make runs at the Super Bowl. Everyone needs to understand that. They don't have to necessarily have the elite quarterback of the league to be successful as a team." Some might interpret that as the GM saying the man he drafted with his first pick as GM will never be as good as Brees, or Rodgers or Brady or Peyton M, but his greater point was: Does it matter? Eli Manning has won as many Super Bowls as his big brother. Brad Johnson won as many Super Bowls as Brett Favre. The key question to ask of an NFL quarerback: Can this guy win a championship?

SOME HITHER, others yon: Want to buy or sell Saints/Falcons tickets? Score good tickets for the game or sell to other fans if you have tickets you can't use with NFL Ticket Exchange at, powered by Ticketmaster, the only official resale market place of the NFL. Buyers can get guaranteed seats even for sold-out games, and sellers never deal with ticket delivery or worry about getting paid...The short-term outlook for Peyton Manning includes no team practices, no appearances at the final two games and a failed-end-of-the--season physical exam. The Colts are optimistic Manning's long-term rehabilitation regimen will provide the information necessary to determine if he figures in their future plans...Wes Bunting is out with his mock draft and the top 500 senior prospects. The Pro Football Post columnist has LSU CB Morris Claiborne going to the Jaguars with the fifth over-all pick: "If the Jaguars are to stay on their board which they usually due will select Claiborne over WR Justin Blackmon despite receiver being a bigger need." Here's how LSU seniors rated on the 1-500 list:  187, TE, Deangelo Peterson; 278, QB, Jordan Jefferson;  327,G, Josh Dorfacyck; 343 LB, Ryan Baker; 387, Karnell Hatcher; 404, C, T-Bob Hebert; and 487, QB, Jarrett Lee...

by Ed Staton

get your LSU and Saints jerseys at Louisiana Sports Talk

Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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