The first three games of the season are over, and the Falcons are sitting pretty at 3-0. They have done so with a bunch of great contributions, both on offense and on defense. However, there are a few guys who stand out above the rest.
Despite it being just three games into the season, we already have a clear idea of who the key contributors are, and who the players are that aren't living up to expectations. However, the main question to be answered at this point is, "Who is the best player for the Atlanta Falcons right now?"
Surprisingly, the Falcons' biggest contributions have come on defense. None other than Sean Weatherspoon, the de facto new defensive captain, is the main culprit for the success. His level of energy and swagger have given the defense a new aggressive playmaking attitude this year.
However, he isn't one who just leads with his mouth. He leads with his play as well; he can be considered one of the top linebackers in the game today, regardless of scheme. His 22 tackles are only second on the team. However, he has 1.0 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery already through three games.
He's also deflected two passes. On top of that, in the run game, he's back to his old ways of stopping players behind or at the line of scrimmage. In just three games, he already has eight stuffs according to Pro Football Focus's premium stats page. ($)
His contributions—both against the run and the pass—have not gone unnoticed this year by the gentlemen there. He has a positive rating in all aspects of the game. To combine that with his leadership puts him in the running, but he just isn't the best player on the Falcons—yet.
William Moore and Thomas DeCoud
It's amazing how much a change in a coordinator can bring out the potential in these two safeties. They have gone from being considered average safeties by most analysts to arguably the best pair of safeties on any team in the NFL today.
Against the run, both Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have been excellent. Moore has four tackles behind or at the line, and Decoud has five tackles either at or behind the line of scrimmage. They have also taken great angles not to allow a long rushing touchdown all season.
Moore has been deadly, both in coverage and against the run. However, his pass rushing is what can set him apart from every other safety in the NFL. On just 10 pass rushes, he already has one sack and three pressures.
In coverage, that's where these two are a step above the rest. Between the two of them, they have combined for five interceptions and eight pass deflections. That is the best of any safety tandem in the NFL.
All around, the pair have been tremendous. There is a bit of a question as to whether it is just a diverse scheme or their actual talent level playing out from finally maturing into top NFL players. Either way, the Falcons have a great tandem of safeties. But this is about the best player on the team, not the best pair of players.
Matt Ryan has looked nothing short of tremendous in his first three games.He has gone 77-for-107 (72.0 percent) for 793 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception. He's also run the ball 10 times for 48 yards and a touchdown, which gives him the best yards per carry average on the team.
To show just how good he has been through the first three games, Matt Ryan leads the league in passer rating at 114.0. He's 4.8 points ahead of the second rated Ben Roethlisberger. On top of that, he is dominating ESPN's Total QBR statistic, posting a league best 91.6, giving him the second-best start since 2008 of any quarterback. (h/t ESPN Stats and Information)
The Falcons have the third-best scoring offense in the NFL at 31.3 points per game. They also convert 50 percent of their third down conversions, which is good for second best in the NFL, and is in large part due to Ryan's passing abilities and leadership at the line of scrimmage.
In the end, it has to be Matt Ryan. Not only is he playing the best football on the Falcons, he looks like he is playing some of the best football in the entire NFL. If Ryan isn't in consideration for the Most Valuable Player award after this season, it will be a shock after his performance in the first three games.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.
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