Matt Ryan emerged as the NFL MVP last year after steering the Atlanta Falcons to an 11-5 record, and an appearance in Super Bowl LI. Ryan’s ascendance to the top of the NFL ranks came as a surprise to many fans and analysts. We try to determine whether Ryan can repeat as MVP below.
Will Ryan be able to repeat?
The case for Ryan
There’s no reason why Matt Ryan can’t repeat as MVP. Ryan finally received due credit for a stellar career in 2016, and he’s entered an unassailable comfort zone ahead of his 10th season.
Ryan completed a hyper-efficient 69.9 percent of his passes for 38 touchdowns against seven interceptions last season, and was the primary reason the Falcons finished first in scoring offense with 33.8 points per game. The 32-year-old is dictating the offense at a high-octane tempo he’s comfortable with, and that’s not going to magically dissipate anytime soon.
It’s not like Ryan is without help, either. Julio Jones is arguably the NFL’s most dangerous and complete receiver, and Ryan will be sure to find him at every opportunity, while Mohamed Sanu and Taylor Gabriel work well as complementary options. The Falcons’ recent success doesn’t appear to be an anomaly.
Ultimately, Ryan’s MVP campaign is predicated on whether the Falcons remain a singular, offensive dynamo that tops the league in scoring offense again. If Ryan and Co. are equally proficient in 2017, there’s no reason why he can’t become the first repeat MVP winner since Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009.
– Arun Srinivasan
The case against Ryan
Can he improve on last season?
Ryan posted a sky-high 117.1 passer rating as he came just 56 yards shy of a 5,000-yard season. He also set a career-high in touchdown passes (38) and career-low in interceptions (seven) while leading the Falcons to Super Bowl LI.
Despite impressive challenges from Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, Ryan won the MVP award by 13 points. To win the award again, he’ll likely have to do even better.
Atlanta will enter the 2017 season with essentially the same offensive roster and a much bigger target on its back. The Falcons were able to surprise some teams last season, but won’t be afforded that same courtesy this year. They’ll also be playing a first-place schedule.
The title of back-to-back NFL MVP has only been bestowed upon Peyton Manning (twice), Brett Favre (back-to-back-to-back), Joe Montana, and Jim Brown. To join that class, Ryan will have to break some records, and some pretty high ceilings in the process.
History is against him.
– Michael McClymont
Is Jay Ajayi the next superstar tailback? (June 14)
Is Landon Collins an elite defensive back? (June 21)
Can Terrelle Pryor be a high-end receiver? (June 28)
Were Vic Beasley’s 15.5 sacks a fluke? (July 5)
Copyright © 2017 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.