Like many of you, I hold Michael Vick in high regard after growing up in Atlanta. He was many people’s favorite player for a long time; Vick was electric and made the Falcons relevant for a while. Some die-hard fans would go to their grave saying he’s the greatest quarterback in Falcons’ history, but that’s an argument for a different day. The point is, his words carry weight in this city.
Vick sat down with Morten Anderson, a Falcons legend in his own right, on the Great Dane Nation podcast to discuss all things Falcons. Morten’s name is littered in the NFL record book. He played a critical role in the Falcons’ first-ever Super Bowl appearance, kicking the game-winning field goal in overtime of the 1998 NFC Championship Game against the Vikings.
“I think Arthur [Smith] is doing a great job,” Vick said, via Falcoholic. “The culture that he’s brought from Tennessee, I think it’s translating. I think being able to have that relationship with Matt Ryan after Matt has been through maybe 3-4 head coaches, 3-4 different systems. There’s a lot of information that can be shared there. I think we’re playing tough, good football. Now, it’s a situation where we gotta get better each and every week. I think what we’ve done best up to this point is learning from our mistakes. They made some mistakes early in the season. They definitely had a chance to beat Tampa Bay, but made some mistakes and lost other games early.”
“I think Kyle Pitts has been a big addition. His presence itself opens things up due to double teams. Matt has the experience knowing how exploit that, Arthur being in Tennessee having one of the most dominant offenses over the last couple of years. Defense is playing well, but we always play tough.” Vick continued, “we always play with pride and play tough but I think it’s another level. This is the perfect time to hit our stride. In regards to Matt [Ryan], I think Matt is playing consistent, playing amazing, and right now it looks like he has 3-4 years left in him.”
Arthur Smith has shown flashes of brilliance but has also stumbled at times — prototypical for a first-year head coach. We won’t know how well this regime is doing for a few years. Still, what’s most important is the consistent improvement each week, as Vick notes. Kyle Pitts will be a superstar in this league; everyone will compliment him when his name comes up, and Vick points out precisely what a veteran quarterback like Matt Ryan can do with a weapon like Pitts.
Vick’s belief in Ryan’s ability to play 3-4 more years is the most interesting bit. Outside of a couple of stinkers, he’s played very well — ranking seventh in completion percentage (67.7%), 12th in passing yards per game (252.7), 13th in passing touchdowns (15), 23rd in yards per attempt (7.1), and 20th in quarterback rating (93.1) among all quarterbacks. Ryan’s contract runs through the 2023 season, and his dead cap figure makes him nearly impossible to cut.
Ryan has undoubtedly lost some arm strength, but he still has enough juice and savviness to compete now. Whether he can continue to play at this level for a few more seasons is another question. Extending him a year or two would provide immediate cap relief; however, if he falls off, the Falcons could regret it if they don’t give themselves an out.
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