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Atlanta Falcons: No Respect for QB Matt Ryan on NFL "Top 100" List

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons looks to pass in the first half against the New York Giants during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Justin BlanchardContributor IIJune 29, 2012

What became more and more apparent with each passing day was finally made official June 27: Matt Ryan has not made this year's version of the NFL Network's "Top 100 Players of 2012."

The list, which is exclusively voted on by players, featured Ryan ranked at No. 52 in 2011.

With all that he achieved last season one would have thought Ryan was lock for this year's list, if not deserving of a higher ranking.

Ryan improved in nearly every category statistically, including throwing for a franchise-record 4,153 yards along with leading the Atlanta Falcons to back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history.

But it's clear Atlanta's humbling 24-2 playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants to drop Ryan's postseason record to 0-3 was all that players took into consideration when the voting took place following the season's end.

But the question is, should that really have mattered?

Well, that depends.

On the one hand, making a postseason appearance carries the burden of being judged for that performance; if the postseason didn't matter, there wouldn't be any point to teams trying their best to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year.  

On the other hand, one could make the argument that it doesn't seem quite fair to compare one player's performance through 16 games to another who played one, two or three more in the playoffs.

Five quarterbacks made it on the list from Nos. 100 through 49. And, according to one or both of the above criteria, there's a case for each as to why Ryan should be on the list over them.

If regular-season performances were the main basis for the selections, Tony Romo (No. 91) has Ryan dominated, but the Falcons signal-caller should have been on the list over Tim Tebow (No. 95), Joe Flacco (No. 74), Michael Vick (No. 70) and Philip Rivers (No. 61).

If it was the playoffs, Tebow and Flacco have Ryan beat, but Ryan did better than Vick, Romo and Rivers considering none of them nor their teams made the postseason last year.

But, wait a minute, does this mean that for some players the playoffs are all that mattered, and for others it was strictly their stats?

The answer was made clear with the selection of Peyton Manning, who sat out the entire 2011 season to injury, at No. 50.

How is it that a player who didn't even play a single down last year made the list at all, let alone earned such a high ranking?

The truth is, statistics and the playoff appearances, while likely playing a role in the voting, weren't the leading criteria for players when it came to ranking quarterbacks.

It was respect.

Unfortunately, expectations were higher for Ryan in 2011-12. With a single playoff victory, there's no doubt his peers would have voted him somewhere on the list, if not guaranteed him a spot in the top 50.

Is that fair? Of course not. Everyone should be held to the same standards when voting on the NFL's "Top 100."

But Ryan wasn't. He lost the respect of his peers the moment the final whistle was blown in last January's loss.

And if his drop from No. 52 a year ago to being entirely off the list in 2012 is any indication, Ryan has a long way to go to if he hopes to win back that respect.

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