Skip to main content

FedEx Air & Ground 2016 nominees: Ryan and Elliott

The 2016 regular season is in the books. This is a deeper look at the FedEx Air & Ground Players of the year. Before you vote, let's take a look at some stats and big plays from this year's nominees.

Matt Ryan

Matt Ryan had worked on deep passes in the offseason. Pair that with an offense that is no longer as one dimensional as it once was and Ryan put together the best season of his career. He lead an Atlanta Falcons offense that scored 540 points this season. That's a franchise record.

Ryan set career highs in yards (4,944), completion percentage (69.9), touchdowns (38) and passer rating (117.1) all while throwing just seven interceptions. This marks just the fourth season in NFL history where a quarterback ended the year with a passer rating above 115 and averaged 300 yards per game. The other QBs on this list are Peyton Manning (2013), Aaron Rodgers (2011) and Tom Brady (2007). All three of those QBs won NFL MVP honors that season.

Ryan is also the first player in NFL history to throw a TD to 13 different players in a single season. That helped the Falcons put up great point production. The team scored more than 30 points in 11 games this season, an NFL best.

Ezekiel Elliott

It didn't take long for Ezekiel Elliott to make his mark on the NFL. In his first NFL season, Elliott rushed for 1,631 yards. The last rookie to lead the NFL in rushing was Edgerrin James in 1999. He's also just the sixth player to lead in rushing despite missing at least one game. The last player to do that was Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith for the Dallas Cowboys in 1993. They won the Super Bowl that season.

Elliott now has the most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns by any Cowboys rookie. Tony Dorsett held the record since 1977 with 1,007 yards and 12 TDs.

Elliott came 178 yards short of Eric Dickerson's rookie rushing record. Only Dickerson (1,808) in 1983 and George Rogers (1,674) in 1981 rushed for more than Elliott in their rookie season. Both Dickerson and Rogers won Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Follow Daniel Williams on Twitter _@danielwilliams_.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.