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Is Matt Ryan The Next Dan Marino?

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With Falcons QB Matt Ryan running away with a blockbuster contract extension, is it too early to compare him with QB greats like Peyton Manning and Dan Marino? Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
With Falcons QB Matt Ryan running away with a blockbuster contract extension, is it too early to compare him with QB greats like Peyton Manning and Dan Marino? Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

As of last week, Falcons QB Matt Ryan is staying in Atlanta for the long run, hoping to help his team finally win it all. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Pro Bowl signal caller signed a five year extension to his current contract. The new deal is worth $103.5 million - $20.7 million per year - and he will remain a Falcon until at least 2018.

Despite critics calling him "overrated" because of the talented group of recievers he has to throw to (including a potential future Hall of Famer), Ryan deserved to get a raise. First off, he led an offense that was ranked in the Top 10 in points and passing yards while putting up extraordinary numbers last season. Ryan finished the year with a 99.1 passer rating, 32 TDs and nearly 5,000 passing yards. Ryan has been a proven winner since his rookie season and even in the years where the receivers were just above average at best, he still maintained a 90.9 career passer rating. The front office did the right thing by doing whatever it took to keep its franchise quarterback in Atlanta.

But Matty Ice is not done dazzling just because he got an extension!

If Ryan continues to have successful seasons like he did in 2012, then I will be quick to place him among the greatest quarterbacks of all time. In fact, he is already on pace to become the next Dan Marino. If Ryan has talented wideout Julio Jones to target for several more years while the team develops its young recievers like Levine Toilolo, then he may have a season where he throws for over 4,800 yards and tosses over 40 touchdowns.

Those were standard numbers for Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

Although he may not have much of a hard throw and quick release, Ryan shares similar leadership qualities as Marino. In his playing days, Marino commanded the huddle with little confusion, was a positive role model off the field and began his rookie campagin by leading his team to the playoffs - much like Matt Ryan.

The most striking similarity that Marino and Ryan share is their ability to lead their teams to comeback wins. Marino spent his career marching his offense down the field on game-winning drives, accumulating 36 fourth quarter comeback victories and engineering 51 game-winning drives in his career. Ryan has been leading quarterbacks in game winning drives since his rookie season in 2008. He already tallied 16 fourth quarter comebacks and led 23 game-winning drives, nearly half as many as Marino. At this rate, Ryan will either catch up to Marino or one day surpass him.

I am personally looking forward to seeing Ryan light up the field again this year. Who knows, he may even pull out a few more comeback wins in 2013 and continue to excite fans with his Marino-like hunger for winning.