Cam Newton is again showing the “real” reason you don’t want Matt Ryan

Part of this post is from September 2nd, listed on the AtlantaBirdGang Facebook group page. Directly, it is about the release of Cam Newton by the New England Patriots last week. I’ve added to it since then for article purposes. Be sure to follow Around The ATL on Twitter (@imtmradio), Instagram (@imtmworldwideradio) and listen to Around The ATL on Spotify, Amazon Music, IheartRadio and Spreaker (subscribe for free for notifications of new shows!).

The Atlanta Falcons have been playing football since 1966.

There have been 14 starting quarterbacks for the team (named the official starter, not backup).

Some of the other quarterbacks that have started at least 1 game for the Falcons include: June Jones, Steve DeBerge, Byron Leftwich, Bobby Herbert, Billy Joe Tolliver, Wade Wilson, etc.

In the Superbowl era, there have been 721 quarterbacks that have played at least 1 game.

There have been 7 African American quarterbacks that have played in the Superbowl:

+ Doug Williams (Washington Redskins, 1988)
+ Steve McNair (Tennessee Titans, 2000)
+ Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles, 2005)
+ Colin Kaepernick (San Francisco 49ers, 2013)
+ Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks, 2014, 2015)
+ Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers, 2016)
Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs, 2019, 2020)

There are 3 African American quarterbacks to win the Superbowl: Doug Williams, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes.

The NFL was established in 1920. The Superbowl era started in 1966.

Needed to give context. Because for some reason, 13 years of thousands of people being sad that there isn’t a black quarterback that can run fast on the Falcons has yet to run its course.

Why is this a big deal? The following are a few statements made by thousands of “Falcons fans” since 2008:

“When Vick was here he energized the crowd”. “When Vick was here he was on the cover of videogames and tv commercials”. “When Vick was here he ran for 100 yards a game”.  “When Vick was here, he could throw the ball 70 yards down the field”. “When Vick was here the Falcons were cool”.

But somehow, stats and victories do not matter when it comes to Vick. Stats and victories only matter when it comes to Matt Ryan.

Vick started 67 games as a Falcon with a 38-28 record. He never had a completion percentage over 56%. His touchdown to interception ratio was terrible. Here are his last 3 years as a Falcon: 14 touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 15 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His best season of accomplishment was 2002 where he helped the team beat Green Bay in Green Bay (which to that date had never happened before). In that playoff game he was 13-25 for 117 yards, 1 touchdown and 64 yards rushing. The rest of the team helped win that game. But individual  stats don’t matter for Vick.

Vick was only able to play 4 seasons as the starting quarterback for the Falcons. He only played 2 games in 2001, he missed the 2003 season and of course his suspension ended his career as a Falcon. He had 2 winning seasons with an 9-6-1 and 11-5 record, along with a 8-8 season and  7-9 season.

What happened when Vick returned to the NFL after he was released from prison? In his 2nd season in Philly he had his first of back to back years of throwing over 3000 yards (had never done that before). He also had a career high in touchdowns (21) and completion percentage (62.6%). He did make the playoffs 2 more seasons, his last appearance was 2010. He went 20-36 for 292 yards, a touchdown and 1 interception, 32 yards rushing with 1 rushing touchdown. They lost to the eventual SuperBowl Champions Green Bay Packers 21-16 (all pro kicker David Akers missed 2 easy field goals that would have won the game for Philly).

The point? There has never been an NFL team that has won a game with one player winning the game completely on their own. Example? The Falcons in 2004 went 11-5 despite the fact Vick only threw 14 touchdowns the entire season, had 12 interceptions, was sacked 46 times and fumbled 16 times, losing 7 of them.

You see stats are a metric of success and failure. They will always matter. To dismiss them to fit a narrative is silly, because facts will always envelop the narrative. The stats of the quarterback, offensive line, defensive line, wide receivers, running backs, linebackers, cornerbacks, punter, field goal kickers, they all matter. What else matters? Coaching decisions. I have said it again and again, the job of the head coach is to put players in the best position to succeed weekly. Not just one game. Coaches that do the best job of that win season after season and some of them win a Superbowl.

Again, this is all for context. Because somehow, for fans in Atlanta, a narrative has been created that Cam Newton is a winner, a dominant quarterback, someone that would be great for the culture of the city and someone that can win a game all by himself (which remember I’ve already said nobody can do that). Because isn’t that the reason you want Cam as the starter? That he is a winner and a dominant quarterback?

Cris Collingsworth on the last pre-season game of the Falcons said Tampa won that Superbowl with their defense. The Green Bay Packers finished the regular season 13-3 the past 2 seasons with Rogers as the quarterback, but didn’t make it to the Superbowl. In the year 2000 the Baltimore Ravens won 4 playoff games including the Superbowl with a quarterback that went 35-73, for 590 yards and 3 touchdowns…. How is that possible if the game had to be decided by one person and that one person is the quarterback? But Trent Dilfer has a Superbowl ring doesn’t he? In addition, think of all the other quarterbacks that have won a Superbowls but never ran outside the pocket (Peyton Manning, Troy Aikman, Joe Montana), and those that have lost Superbowls despite being a great quarterback (Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Kurt Warner). Jim Kelly lost his 1st Superbowl because of special teams (wide right). Russell Wilson lost a Superbowl because of a coaching decision. Tom Brady won a Superbowl where his team scored 13 points. The quarterback is one of 53 players. There is a coaching staff. There is a general manager. There is an owner. They all have a part in the success or failure of a team each year, not just the quarterback. Nobody wins a game alone.

Lets do this. For those that want to sign Cam, explain in football terms why you want him as the starting quarterback rather than have Matt here. Here is me saying “NO!”.  Cam Newton’s career record is 75-63. Career comp % is 60%. His career rate is 84.4. His qbr the last 3 years he had full seasons was 51,53 and 47 (remember he was hurt the year before). 190 touchdowns, 118 interceptions (last year he had 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for the Patriots). Playoff record 3-4 with 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions . In his career so far, he has had 3 winning seasons and one of those was his MVP  and Superbowl appearance season. In his biggest game ever (the Superbowl), he was 18-41, no touchdowns, ran for 45 years, had an interception, and 2 fumbles.

On the other hand, Matt has a record of 113-92, career comp % of 65%. His career rate is 94.5. Last 3 years his qbr was 65, 59 and 67. 347 touchdowns, 158 interceptions. Playoff record 4-6 with 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Matt has had 7 winning seasons (don’t count the 8-8 season) with 5 winning seasons in a row (breaking the streak from 1965 to 2008 of the Falcons never having back to back winning seasons) and he has 38 come from behind victories (8th in NFL history). In his Superbowl he was 17-23, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, 1 fumble.

So if you are talking about winning, Matt wins more and gives you a chance to win more. If you talking about ability, Matt is the better quarterback. So exactly why do you want Cam here? Lamar Jackson isn’t vaccinated either, don’t see him getting cut. Patriots said being vaccinated or not wasn’t a main factor in their decision.  Cam is not a winning QB and doesn’t give your team a chance to win more than Matt. Now, Cam as a backup? Currently Patriots decided that Jason Stidham is their number 2 QB. Brian Hoyer is on the practice squad. If Cam couldn’t beat out those players, don’t you think that’s a bad sign? Rosen knows the offense and has an arm and now has a coach that can help him along with Matt. Cam has still not said he even wants to be a backup, which again means he wouldn’t be here anyway. So again, explain your reasoning why Cam should replace Matt. Also for those wondering, Cam had a top 20 or higher defense in each of his seasons with panthers except for 2. Matt has had a top 20 or higher defense 3 times since 08 (remember the Superbowl year Falcons were 27th in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed).

When looking at the pure football standpoint of an argument of having Cam rather than Matt as the starter, why would you choose Cam? Explain it. Tell me why Cam is better? Does he win more? Throwing the ball far down the field matters not if catches are not happening. Accuracy matters. Has he proven that he is the main reason his team is competitive each game or is it the opposite?

Remember, 1 player alone does not win games. That being said……

Did you know that out of 19 seasons Brady had a top 6 defense 10 times?

Did you know the combined careers of Ryan, Rogers, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees they had a top 6 defense 4 times combined. That explains why Rogers and Brees, as good as they are, only have the one Superbowl and how Peyton won a Superbowl barely able to walk in Denver and of course how the Falcons could not get one meaningful stop against the Patriots.

Shout out to Scott Johns on the Atlantabirdgang Facebook group for this:

34/52 for 373 yards and 1 touchdown

30/42 396 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception

34/52 411 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception

36/45 319 yards, 2 touchdowns

24/39 375 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception

30/44 295 yards, 2 touchdowns

17/23 284 yards, 2 touchdowns

27/42 335 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception

27/39 334 yards, 2 touchdowns

38/52 330 yards, 2 touchdowns

29/39 419 yards, 3 touchdowns

26/35 374 yards, 5 touchdowns

30/36 356 yards, 4 touchdowns

32/46 330 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception

Those numbers were from some of the games Matt Ryan has over the years. THESE WERE ALL LOSSES!!

Coaching matters. Offense matters. Defense matters. Special teams matters (that ball is still spinning while our punt team lets Dallas get it). And by the way, that Dallas game last year? Matt went 24/36 273 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Our starting running back averaged 2.9 yards that game. Lost that game 40-39…..

The city of Atlanta deserves a Superbowl Championship. Fans deserves to know that feeling. However, whenever you became a fan of the team, you knew that had not won one yet. Depending on when you were born, the team hadn’t even made a Superbowl yet. For some fans, they say they only want to support when the team wins. That they only want to pay attention to the team until “after” they have won a Superbowl.

If you’re only prerequisite for following and rooting and cheering for a team is a championship, why be a Falcons fan at all? Is that fair to the players over the decades that gave their all, sacrificing themselves for you, the fan? Because what are you actually cheering for each game if you don’t really want to support the team? If you’ve already given up before each season begins? That you have no faith in what the team tries to do each off-season? There is nothing wrong with being critical of the team you want to follow, but at the point where you “hate” the team, why not just choose another team that you feel is better than the team you hate? Living in misery for years is not worth it.

Which comes to my next point. If the reason you have loathed the Atlanta Falcons since 2008 is that Mike Vick is not the quarterback, what are you really saying? Did you think Blank was going to break Vick out of jail? Pay off the judge? Seriously, there are people that had a mindset like the Falcons were going to forfeit games for two years to wait for Vick to get out of prison. People acted like Vick had won 4 Superbowls in a row and Blank was doing him wrong. Over the past few years, each time there was a quarterback that had that one “trait” that Vick had, thousands of Falcons fans tried to legitimize why a move should be made no matter what.

Maybe the Falcons should have drafted the following after 2008: Josh Freeman, RGIII, Cam Newton, EJ Manuel, Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins.

The thing is, so many things determine draft positioning. Then there is making a choice that actually works (remember the Bears chose Mitch rather than Watson or Mahomes). But past this, the quarterback actually has to make that draft pick worthwhile. Out of the above quarterbacks, one has won a Superbowl, one has appeared in a Superbowl. The remaining quarterbacks either have not stayed healthy, not played well enough to stay in the league, a few have not played enough to determine their potential, etc.  And these are quarterbacks selected in the 1st round. Doesn’t count all of the other quarterbacks selected in the draft since Matt Ryan has been a Falcon. Nothing is guaranteed. RGIII had a great rookie season for the Washington Football Team. But his 2nd year not so much and since then has been completely off the radar. Winston led his team to one .500 season, but had no success after that culminating with season where he threw 30 interceptions. I didn’t want to take the time to talk about free agency, but you know how much a rolling of the dice that is. Ask the Vikings if Cousins was worth the money.

In the entire history of the NFL there have been 106 African American quarterbacks that played as the starting quarterbacks for their teams. Let me repeat, we don’t know the future’s of the younger quarterbacks recently drafted in the last few years. But  since 1967, seven have played in the Superbowl, and 3 have won it.

So many people have made the success of the Atlanta Falcons a black and white issue. That the reason the Atlanta Falcons have yet to win a Superbowl is because we did not have a black quarterback. That Matt Ryan is a terrible quarterback and has been terrible the whole 13 years he has been here. If you read the facts above, you know Matt Ryan is not a terrible quarterback. You know that he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league and will eventually be in the Hall Of Fame. Cam Newton is not recognized as one of the better quarterbacks and definitely will not be in the Hall Of Fame. Again, what metric are you using to say Cam should be the starting quarterback of the Falcons? For 13 seasons we have not had a mystery at the quarterback position unlike so many other franchises. Do you realize there are teams that have had 5-7 or more different starting quarterbacks since Matt was drafted? It has been a calendar week and nobody has signed Cam yet as the season is about to start. If he was really that good and valuable, don’t you think another team would have signed him the day he was released? As a backup at least?

What is the real reason you want Cam Newton as your starting quarterback?? And is that reason enough to hate the team for 13 years because the Falcons did not get the “player” that you wanted? Think about it, reconsider. Matt Ryan is going to finish his career as a Falcon. And before you say, “you’re settling”, fans can’t settle. Fans don’t control salaries, roster or coaching decisions. The only ones who can “settle” would be the owner of the team, General Manager and the coach (if he allows players that can’t play to stay on the field). As fans there is one thing we do control, support of the team. Going to the games, tailgating, watching games on tv, listening to the games on 92.9, buying hats and jerseys, bragging about your team on social media. Those are things that fans can do. And yes, you can be critical about your team. But at the point where criticism turns to hate, where you never say anything positive about the team, you never think the team has a chance, you say you’re not going to watch any games for the season, you’re always negative to players even if they are actually good, why bother following a team you obviously hate?

The cliché “there is always next year” should not be a negative connotation. Having hope is a part of sports. Think about it, here are the teams that still have not won a Superbowl: Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers (formerly San Diego), Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and of course the Atlanta Falcons. Since they haven’t won the Superbowl, why do fans keep going to the games? Again, I’ve already explained that they can’t settle. So what is the reason? The Browns, Texans, Jaguars and Lions have not even been to the Superbowl. Why are fans still showing up to the games each year?

Faith. They show up because they have faith that their team is going to win the next year. And during the season their team is going to win on Sunday. Watching the game from start to finish, because the game isn’t over until it’s over. Watching all the games during the season, even if your team is eliminated from the playoffs, because you “want” your team to win that game. If you don’t have faith or hope in your team, why do you have a team? If you have nothing good to say, you don’t have any favorite players on the team, you don’t believe the best players on the team are any good, why waste time? Average NFL game is 3 hours long. Tickets are $80 or more. How much is parking? How long do you stand in line? Average family of 4, how much for food and drinks? All of that just to complain about your team the whole game even if they are winning? Why not instead make the choice to follow a different team? A team you feel is better, one that has the players that you want, a team that has the success “now” that you want to support? Wouldn’t that be easier?

The problem is many just do not have have true fandom. They are not a fan. They are not fanatical. Casual sports fans, nothing wrong with that, but you can’t be casual and fanatical at the same time. The moment you say something like “Yeah, I’m not really feeling the upcoming season”, you’re a casual fan. “I’m going to wait till after the first 8 games”, casual fan. “Let me check the score on my phone”, casual fan. It takes time to be a fan, effort, research, money. Being a fan is supposed to be FUN!!!! But to most Falcons fans its laborious. Again I say, if the only reason you claim to want to support a team is when they win, you’re not much of a fan. Because what if they never win? That’s possible. Ask the Browns over the last few decades, heck they lost their team to Baltimore, got a new team and still kept losing until very recently. Browns may never win a Superbowl but the Dawg Pound is in full force each and every year. The reason? Because one year they “might” win it all. New Orleans was never going to get to a Superbowl much less win one and then all of a sudden, there they were. The first time Tampa Bay got to the Superbowl, remember their history to that date? The Philadelphia Eagles finally won one, against the Patriots, and nobody saw that. Generations of fans through the years is only possible because of the “hope” that this is year is the year. You’re at work at water cooler defending your team, at school talking to your friends about your favorite player, on Facebook talking smack before the next game. It only matters because you feel your team is better, not worse. Even if your team is worse than another team, as a fan, you talk your team up, not down. I remember a close friend of mine from childhood always said how he respected the fact that I always defended the Atlanta Hawks during the Jordan era of the Bulls. He didn’t understand it, lol, but he respected it.

We have a new GM, a new coach and coaching staff, an adjusted roster from the season before. For those that are excited about the season, stay that way! If you are not, try to be. Because you won’t feel the same as the rest of us if the Falcons go on to have not just a winning season.  Maybe you don’t want them to win. But what if they “do” win the Superbowl? Will you still complain that the QB of record is Matt Ryan?


Last week I did a Facebook Live to put a visual to my thoughts. Take a look below.

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References: Pro Football Reference, BolaVIP, USA Today


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