As I watched Matt Ryan take command of his team and offense at a very young age and with very little NFL experience, I was reminded of a very special NFL quarterback.......the Broncos very own Peyton Manning.
You might say that this comment is outrageous or crazy but that is what I have seen in Matt Ryan over the past four years. He seems to be ahead of his time and ahead of his peers in the head game that is playing quarterback in the NFL. Thanks to changes like the strict enforcement of pass interference, large QB salaries, the short shelf life of RBs and the high scores that fans demand never in the history of the league has so much pressure been put on the quarter back. Matt Ryan seems to be dealing with that pressure better then quarterbacks with his years of experience and even better then some quarterbacks with more experience.
Matt Ryan is not a game manager, he is a well rounded threat at the quarterback position and appears to be the leader of his offense and team. A game that pitted Matt Ryan against his draft mate Joe Flacco in Atlanta a couple years ago kind of cemented this line of thinking for me.What I saw was Ryan controlling the offense with tempo, audibles and checks much like Manning is known to do. Flacco on the other hand looked like the quintecencial game manager. Some of that was Flacco's fault but some of the blame can also be placed on Cam Camron the OC for the Ravens and his lack of trust in Flacco or Camron's inability to relinquish control to his young QB. On that note, fast forward to last week and the addition of QB coach Jim Caldwell, who was a former Buffs coach, former Colts QB coach, former Colts OC and former Colts HC. Coach Caldwell learned a lot from Peyton manning and the Colts. It was apparent last week that Flacco needed coach Caldwell's tutelage and so called "sugar huddle" to bring out the best in him. Sometimes the less thinking a QB does...the better. It's a long season and we'll see how Flacco and Caldwell fair over the long haul.
Ryan and Manning have very similar builds.
Ryan at 6'4" 225lbs
Manning at 6'5" 230lbs
Compared to the QB's in the NFL today, neither man is a physical specimen and neither man has the arm strength of a John Elway which means that he definitely doesn't have the arm strength of a Jay Cutler. But as we're seeing first hand here in Denver and will see first hand in the Georgia Dome on Monday night, both Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning can read defense, have a quick release, will adjust their offenses as necessary and unlike Jay Cutler, they will take what the defense is willing to give them. Also unlike a lot of the QB's in todays NFL, neither guys are stronger then average and neither are very mobile. Much like Dan Marino and Tom Brady, Ryan and Manning can both slide around around the pocket but neither will beat you with his feet. Hard to believe I know, considering the latest Sports Illustrated cover of Manning sprinting for a gain of 7.
Both players have been successful QB's at every level of competition, winning in high school, college conference titles and taking their respective NFL teams to double digit wins and division crowns. Both players were the first QB selected in their respective draft classes with Ryan being the consensus number one QB and Manning battling for that coveted spot with the now infamous other Ryan, Ryan leaf. Both Ryan and Manning are facing doubters early in their careers because of great regular season success but have failed to win playoff games. Ryan of course was drafted third over all by a much better team in Atlanta then the lowly Colts that made Manning the number one over all pick in the 1998 draft. Both players seem like students of the game, seems like they both respect the game, respect their team mates and their opponents. Both have been fortunate enough to have a couple of great wide outs and a great tight end to throw to. Ryan and Manning are the only two QB's to throw for over 3,000yds their rookie season. Of all the accomplishments that Peyton Manning has earned ROY is not one of them and that is an award that players only get one shot at and is an award that Ryan call his own.
To me, it seems like there are a lot of similarities between the two, probably several more similarities but like Peyton Manning, I'm running out of time.
So what do you think, is Ryan the next Manning or is Ryan simply the most similar to Manning out of the QB's playing in the league today? Or is there another of todays QB's that reminds you of good ol'number 18?
Here is a look at their numbers through four years. www.pro-football-reference.com