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Both of these 23 year old rookie QB's have turned their respective NFL teams around in just 12 games this season. Both these guys are rather large, Ryan stands at 6 foot 4 inches, Flacco at 6 foot 6 inches. Both of these guys look like veteran QB's, similar to Brett Favre of the Jets and Kurt Warner of the Cardinals (only difference is neither are quite to the level of HOF status, just yet).
What's even scarier is that the two rookie signal-callers have nearly identical numbers. Both Flacco's Baltimore Ravens and Ryan's Atlanta Falcons currently stand at 8-4 and are in the heart of the wild card race. Go right ahead and take a gander at the numbers
Joe Flacco, BAL, QB- 12 games, 202 for 331 (61%), 2,276 passing yards, 12 TD passes, 9 INT's, 23 sacks, 82.3 QB Rating
Matt Ryan, ATL, QB- 12 games, 203 for 333 (61%), 2,625 passing yards, 13 TD passes, 6 INT's, 13 sacks, 91.2 QB Rating
As you can see, the numbers are pretty similar. But, Ryan gets the edge. Ryan has attempted two more passes than Flacco, yet he has nearly 350 more passing yards than his opponent, Flacco. The QB rating is a great way to measure a QB's production, and Ryan's, thanks to his 13 TD passes and just 13 sacks, is nearly 10 points highers than Flacco's (QB rating). Both Baltimore and Atlanta have pretty balanced attacks when it comes to offense. But, Flacco has more support behind him thanks to Baltimore's stingy defense.
Led by veteran LB Ray Lewis and all-pro safety Ed Reed, Baltimore reps the second best total defense in the NFL right now, allowing just 253.3 yards per game. Against the run, Baltimore is one of only four teams yet to allow over 1,000 rushing yards on the season (along with Pittsburgh, New York (Jets) and Minnesota). While they are second in the League in passing yards allowed per game, 175.1.
The Falcons defense, on the other hand, cannot say the same thing. But, the the overall 22nd best defense in the League of 32 teams have yet to drag Matt Ryan and the offense, ranked sixth best in the league, down.
As far as offensive support goes, both teams have solid running games. The fumble resistant Willis McGahee heads Baltimore's third ranked rushing team, while former LT backup, Michael Turner, has helped Atlanta's second ranked run game with over 1,200 yards on the ground. Ryan has gotten plenty, and I mean plenty, of production from Pro Bowl bound wide receiver Roddy White, this season. Though White, 69 receptions for 1,085 yards and six TD's this season, may be the only noteworthy wideout on Atlanta's depth chart. Michael Jenkins, Atlanta's #2 WR, has hauled in just 34 passes for 520 yards and three TD's for the third place Falcons. Luckily, for Flacco, Baltimore has more consistency lining up wide for him.
The always reliable veteran Derrick Mason has 800+ receiving yards (projected for 1,081 in '08), and the playmaker Mark Clayton have been great targets for Flacco. A healthy Todd Heap would really help this passing attack out, a lot. But, many have forgotten about the rookie RB Ray Rice, who has done an outstanding job running routes (31 receptions for 264 yards, 8.5 YPC) for Flacco.
Rookie of the Year pick??
It has to be Ryan at this point in the season. People thought Atlanta had no chance at all this season. Yes, I know that many people, outside of Baltimore, thought the same thing about Baltimore. But there was certainly a lot more confidence coming from Baltimore's fans, and as of this weekend, Baltimore has performed up to all the hype. But Ryan's numbers are better with less support than what Flacco has gotten in Baltimore.
Other Potential ROY winners: