Commentary

Why Matt Ryan is dominant at home

The Falcons QB has gotten some lucky breaks, but plays far better at home

Originally Published: December 25, 2010
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders
RyanJoe Nicholson/US PresswireMatt Ryan's home record of 19-1 is impressive. But how lucky has he been to get all 19 wins?

Matt Ryan's win-loss record at home is the calling card of his young career (19-1), the measure of how dominant a quarterback he's been inside the Georgia Dome. If the Falcons deliver on their 96 percent chance of taking the top seed in the NFC, Ryan's home record may end up replacing "Matty Ice" as his most prominent nickname.

On the other hand, assigning the value of a win or loss entirely to one player is absurd on several levels. While quarterback is undoubtedly the most important position on the field, we often hear that a team's middle linebacker or free safety can be their "quarterback on defense." Do you ever hear about Ray Lewis' win-loss record? Of course not. And just as sabermetricians pointed out Felix Hernandez's lack of run support as part of his successful Cy Young case, it's ridiculous to give a quarterback credit for something that happens while he's on the bench.

Has a quarterback who wins a game 9-3 really done more to help his team win than one that loses 44-40? It seems awfully unlikely. Consider that Ryan is credited with a "win" against the Buccaneers last season that saw him throw three passes before leaving with a toe injury. He received exactly as much credit for that win as he did for that remarkable comeback victory over the Ravens earlier this year.

So let's look past that gaudy record and take an objective look at Ryan's performance at home. Is his actual performance at home significantly better at home than on the road? Is that true of most quarterbacks? Is his win-loss record at home through these first 20 starts unprecedented? And should the contenders of the NFC be terrified of a trip to Atlanta?


To read more about why Matt Ryan is so good at home and exactly how much of the credit he should get for his 19-1 record in the Georgia Dome, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.