Matt Schaub and Matt Ryan, the tale of two Matts
I know, hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to pass judgment when you have the liberty of foresight. Anyone that makes a mistake would love to go back and rectify it. But sometimes it’s more difficult to judge whether you really made a mistake, or if the choices given were just too tempting to pass up.
That’s where our story begins. Our focus is in Flowery Branch Georgia , headquarters of the Atlanta Falcons. The ultimate choice made on this day will forever change the name Rich McKay in the history books.
It was March 22,2007 and the Atlanta Falcons had just come off of a disappointing 8-8 season. They had controversy spring up between the then head coach Jim Mora. Jr and his franchise quarterback Michael Vick. Vick was critical of the offensive game plan and came out on television about it in an interview with Michael Irvin on ESPN.
That was followed shortly thereafter by the comments from Jim Mora Sr. that Vick was a coach killer. It didn’t get better from there. Mora Jr. then stuck his foot in his mouth about his preference towards coaching in his native state of Washington .
When the season ended, Mora Jr. was let go and the highly publicized signing of then Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino occurred. All of these events bring us to that day on March 22, 2007.
On this day, Rich McKay traded then Falcons back-up quarterback Matt Schaub to the Houston Texans for two second round picks. One in 2007 and the other in 2008. They also agreed to flip their first round picks in 2007. That meant the Falcons drafted eight rather than tenth overall.
Those two second round picks ultimately ended up producing two offensive linemen. Guard Justin Blalock out of Texas and Sam Baker from USC.
While in Atlanta , Schaub had proven he was a solid prospect. In his limited action, he showed the arm and all the intangibles it takes to be a great leader. He was poised, intelligent and allowed Falcon receivers to make plays in the open field. Something the man he backed up couldn’t seem to do.
His problem was that he didn’t win. He could statistically have a fantastic game but the scoreboard always left much to be desired. On that day in late March, Schaub was given a chance to show his skills merited more than the role of a backup.
That my friends is when the wheels fell off the bus. The Falcons star quarterback was accused of Federal crimes and subsequently suspended indefinitely. After failing to teach head coach Bobby Petrinos offense to piano man Joey Harrington, the Falcons first year head coach left after 14 weeks. In his defense, he did leave a note…
The Falcons were left high and dry pondering the result of reliqueshing the rights to the first of the two Matts. It’s true that Petrino and Schaub could have formed a pretty deadly alliance. This is where I use one part speculation, one part hindsight.
Since going to Houston , Schaub has shown the tools to be a top ten quarterback in the NFL. When healthy, he’s a defensive coordinators nightmare.
It was assumed coming out of Virginia he was a perfect fit for a west coast style of offense. I must assume, that was the reason Rich McKay drafted him. It was perfect for the offense implemented by then offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.
But what Schaub has proven since taking over in Houston is that he is not limited in his throws, as are many west coast style quarterbacks. Schaub can flat air it out.
In his three years in Houston he has established a 67% completion percentage, thrown for 10,000 yards and over 50 touchdowns. He still has that one stigma associated with him however. He just isn’t a winner yet.
That said, as a direct result of his being traded to the Texans the Falcons had to completely rebuild from the ground up. A new general manager, a new head coach, new staff and dice were rolled on a new quarterback.
That brings us to our second Matt. This one is known as ‘Matty Ice’ to most that follow the NFL.
Matt Ryan came out of Boston College on the heels of an impressive bowl victory against Virginia Tech. He was touted by most prognosticators to be the best college quarterback prospect to come out in many years. I still believe analyst Mike Mayock secretly wishes to have a bromance with the BC phenom.
In his first season under the new regime Falcons, Ryan was selected as the Associated Press Rookie of the Year and led the Falcons into the playoffs. It appeared that the Falcons had simply traded one Matt for an improved version.
This season, the Matt in Houston played out of his mind. Hed led the NFL in passing yards and kept his team in the playoff hunt. He had eleven games where he passed for over 300 yards in 2009, yet couldn’t garner a Pro Bowl selection.
The Matt in Atlanta has battled both a sophomore slump as well as a turf toe. His statistics were actually improved from his rookie campaign, but the team results declined. That was directly related to some rather poor passing decisions made by the young face of the Falcons.
He did lead his team to it’s first ever back-to-back winning seasons. He ended the year with almost 3000 yards and 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions.
Looking at these two players I see the future of the NFL. Both are young, work hard and any given Sunday they can pick apart any defense in the league. But the question will linger on; ‘Which Matt will be the more successful quarterback?’
Both teams should benefit greatly from their signal callers. When the Bradys, Mannings and McNabbs of the league retire, the tale of the two Matts will be told again. It will be interesting to see which of these two has more success in the league.| NFL Matt Schaub Ryan Review Falcons Texans