Ryan must have aced Self Awareness 101 at Boston College because the fifth-year quarterback declined to say if he considers himself to be among the upper-echelon of NFL quarterbacks.
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"It doesn't matter," Ryan said via Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It doesn't matter what I think or what anyone else thinks. It matters how we win. That's where my focus is. Other than that, I don't really worry about it too much. I don't think about it. I don't worry about it."
"Quarterback wins" is as fictitious a statistic as it gets -- Ben Roethlisberger "won" Super Bowl XL with a 22.6 passer rating -- but when a quarterback has no track record of playoff success, he probably shouldn't put himself in the same class as Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. Heck, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manninghad a Super Bowl ring when he was crushed for declaring himself a Top 5 quarterback last summer.
So until the Falcons win a few playoff games with Ryan under center, he (and we) should hold off on the elite talk. Statistically, however, Ryan is knocking on the door.
Over his four-year career, Ryan's completion percentage is over 60 percent, he's averaged over 3,500 passing yards and 23 touchdowns per season and he has more than twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. From an advanced metrics standpoint, Ryan has ranked in the Top 10 in Football Outsiders' DYAR and DVOA (explanations of both can be found in the link) in each of the last two seasons. With Julio Jones and Roddy White forming what's believed to be the best receiver duo in the National Football League, Ryan could put up 4,500-5,000 passing yards this season.