Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Harrington, who likely will be one of Ryan's backups, has excellent perspective because he's been through it. Harrington was drafted to be the savior in Detroit. He wound up getting booed out of town and his career has never recovered.
The Falcons are very aware of the long list of rookie quarterbacks who have been thrown in too quickly and had their careers ruined. They kept that in mind throughout the whole process of deciding what to do with Ryan. Whichever way they went would have been a gamble because Ryan has a $72 million contract.
But I think the Falcons are making the right decision with Ryan and here are three reasons why.
The expectations from fans in Atlanta won't be as ridiculous as Harrington and guys such as David Carr faced. The Falcons are coming off such a horrendous season and the whole Michael Vick saga was so bad that fans will cut Ryan some slack. There's going to be a longer honeymoon period than most quarterbacks get and it's not like fans will be yelling for Harrington or Chris Redman.
The Falcons are handling this situation as well as possible. They're making it a point not to single out Ryan as the savior. They're just calling him one of 22 starters. They've also surrounded him with running back Michael Turner and receiver Roddy White. That's pretty good talent and those two should be able to keep some of the pressure off Ryan. The offensive line is a question mark and rookie left tackle Sam Baker will have to develop quickly. Baker may be more under the microscope than Ryan.
One thing really stuck with me from my visit to Atlanta's training camp. The Falcons truly believe that Ryan has the mental makeup to deal with what's sure to be a difficult process. After meeting Ryan and talking to lots of people about him, I agree. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but I think there's something special about Ryan. The words of one member of the organization echo in my head every time I think about Ryan and the risk the Falcons are taking. I asked that person if the Falcons were worried about Ryan ending up like David Carr. That person looked at me and said, "Matt Ryan is not David Carr."