Just like Matthew Stafford and Mark Sanchez, who headlined Sunday’s Lions-Jets game last weekend, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco will always be linked because they were the only quarterbacks picked in the first round of the 2008 draft. Ryan was selected third overall out of Boston College while Flacco was chosen 18th overall from lesser-known Delaware. Don’t get Flacco’s credentials confused either; he initially enrolled at Pitt but transferred after losing out to three-year starter Tyler Palko.
Drafted to a team picking third overall, Matt Ryan had much less help surrounding him than Flacco. The Falcons had just seen Mike Vick get sentenced to prison for leading the dog fighting ring and were asking the rookie to lead the franchise. Ryan combined with Mike Smith and Michael Turner to form a trio of newcomers to the franchise that helped lead them to the playoffs. Atlanta went 11-5 in the regular season before losing to the Cardinals in the playoffs 30-24.
Ryan threw for 3,440 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions his rookie year. The young quarterback got hurt last year but still went 9-5 in his starts, tossing 22 touchdowns and 14 picks while seeing his completion percentage and yardage totals drop off from the previous year. Ryan seemed to perform worse in his second year than his rookie season while Joe Flacco flourished.