Comparing Ryan's start to Manning's

August, 25, 2011
8/25/11
11:14
AM ET
AFC South colleague Paul Kuharsky passed along a great link this morning. It’s to a story that compares Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan to Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning over the first three years of their career.

Keep in mind, this is written by a Colts’ fan and the motto of the website is “It isn’t homerism if you’re right.’’ But, in this case, writer Nate Dunlevy isn’t being a homer. He gives a fair and balanced breakdown of Ryan and Manning in their first three seasons and relies mostly on statistics.

The most amazing thing in there is that Ryan completed 357 of 571 pass attempts (62.5 percent) last season. Those were the exact same numbers that Manning had in his third season (2000). The big difference was in yards, where Manning had nearly 700 more. But Ryan led the Falcons to a 13-3 record, while the Colts were 10-6 in Manning’s third season.

Overall, Ryan compares pretty well to Manning over their first three seasons. While throwing a lot less than Manning, Ryan had a much more consistent rookie season. But Manning was playing on a horrible team that went 3-13.

Manning clearly had the edge in Year 2, as he led the Colts to a 13-3 record and threw for 4,000 yards for the first time in his career. Ryan dipped a bit in his second season, but some of that can be traced to injuries.

The bottom line is that through three seasons, Ryan compares pretty favorably to Manning. He hasn’t had the chance to throw nearly as much, so stats such as yards and touchdowns are skewed. But Ryan has a better three-year completion percentage and passer rating.

Most importantly, Ryan has a 33-13 record. Manning was 26-22 in his first three seasons.

I’m not saying Ryan’s as good as Manning or ever will be. I’m just pointing to the stats Dunlevy sorted out and observing that Ryan’s off to a pretty good start compared to perhaps the best quarterback ever.

As we look ahead to Ryan’s fourth season, it’s worth taking a looking at what Manning did in his fourth season. In 2001, Manning completed 343 of 547 passes (62.7 percent) for 4,131 yards with 26 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and a 94.7 passer rating. The Colts went 6-10 that season.

I don’t anticipate the Falcons going 6-10. I’m thinking that after Ryan’s fourth season, he still will compare pretty favorably to Manning.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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