The Atlanta Falcons, along with the rest of the NFL, will have to finalize their 53-Man rosters by Saturday September 5 at 4 p.m. ET. This means that many of the players fighting for a roster spot will be sent home or signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers. In this series, I will do a breakdown of each of the Falcons positions and what they may look like entering the September 5 deadline.
With that being said, let’s jump right into the most important position on the field and arguably the easiest one to predict: Quarterback. Luckily for Atlanta, this hasn’t been a position of need for over ten years.
Matt Ryan is entering year 13 and there’s no debate that he’ll enter this year as the unquestioned starter. Atlanta found and selected its franchise quarterback with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. It’s not easy finding a franchise quarterback, just ask about a fourth of the league, but since 2008 that is a position the Falcons never really had to worry about.
Ever since taking over the job in his rookie season, Ryan has been nothing short of spectacular for the Falcons. He holds the franchise record for passing yards (51,186), passing touchdowns (321), yards per game (270.8), passer rating (94.6), 300-yard games (64), and completion percentage (65.4 percent). Ryan also holds a 109-80 career record for Atlanta, was the 2016 NFL MVP and offensive player of year, and continues to climb in the NFL records each year. Ryan is only 35 years old and has never had a major injury. For a guy who has only missed three games his entire career, Matt Ryan probably still has another 4 high caliber years left barring any major injuries.
Heading into the 2020 NFL season, Matt Ryan has an opportunity to further solidify his Hall of Fame career. Ryan only needs 289 yards to surpass John Elway on the NFL all time passing yards list. This is very doable in week one against Seattle considering Matt Ryan surpassed the 300-yard mark in 11 of 15 games in 2019. Ryan also has a chance to continue to stake his claim as the comeback kid. As we sit, Ryan ranks as eighth all time in fourth quarter comebacks (30). Elway and Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sit just above him at 31. Peyton Manning is the all-time leader at 43, which is a possible stat for Ryan to reach when it’s all said and done.
Matt Ryan has a history of doing very well playing in the second season of Offensive coordinators. If that trend continues, Ryan and the entire Falcons offense is looking to take a big step in 2020. Of course, Ryan has worked with Offensive Coordinator, Dirk Koetter, in the past but Koetter left after his second season in Atlanta to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015. So, both player and coach has evolved since their first stint together.
Battling for a Spot:
If there was any discussion to be had about the Atlanta Falcons quarterback situation, it would have to be centered around the backup situation. Going into last season, Kurt Benkurt looked to overtake the backup role from Matt Schaub. Benkurt looked really good in last year’s NFL preseason Hall of Fame game before going down due to a toe injury. According to reports, he has had a solid camp again this year, but it may be tough to win the job.
Schaub proved last year why he was so valuable to the Falcons. Since he was brought back to Atlanta in 2016, he has provided a lot of leadership and help in the quarterback room. With Schaub being a 38-year-old quarterback, many fans were pushing for a younger cheaper option in Benkurt. But once Matt Ryan went down in the 4th quarter of the loss to the Los Angeles Rams, Schaub proved his worth in his start against Seattle. Ultimately a loss in a very disappointing first half of the season, Schaub performed very well completing 39 of 52 passes for 460 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Schaub brings great leadership to the locker room and understands the offense very well. The coaching staff views Schaub as another coach on the field.
The Falcons have been pretty consistent in the number of quarterbacks kept on the active roster.
- 2017: 2 quarterbacks
- 2018: 2 quarterbacks
- 2019: 2 quarterbacks
There is only one player at this position who I think is a 100% guarantee to make the roster:
- Matt Ryan
These are the two players who are battling for the backup spot:
- Matt Schaub
- Kurt Benkurt
Because of the experience and leadership in the locker room, I am rolling with Schaub to win the job. But with how well Benkurt played last year and this year he has a strong case to win the job.
At the end of the day, I believe the Falcons will roll with the same two guys they have since 2016.
- Matt Ryan
- Matt Schaub