After viewing myriad football offerings over the past week, I was left with one burning question: Who has the best arm: Matt Ryan, Geoff Collins, or Marco Wilson?
I’ll begin by asserting that it may not be Ryan. The Falcons quarterback, formerly known as Matty Ice, purveyor of thrilling, last-minute, come-from-behind victories, had two chances to lead his team to a late victory over the Chargers Sunday.
Instead, he threw two interceptions.
The last one was the most galling. An out pattern run by Calvin Ridley, the Falcons best receiver in uniform, should have been a sure thing; a catch at the Chargers 26-yard line with 30 seconds remaining in a tie game.
Instead, Ryan’s pass floated with a modicum of zippiness out toward Ridley, enabling Michael Davis to step in front of Ridley and snare the pass.
The ball was so poorly thrown that Ryan, in a rare display of displeasure, repeatedly banged his helmet against other solid objects.
“I don’t think it was the read, or pressure,” Ryan told the Associated Press. “I think it was just a poor throw. I had to put it high and away on the sideline and give Cal a chance.”
Well, of course. Ryan knows exactly what to do. He’s a veteran NFL quarterback, and a very good one at that. In fact, Sunday he passed Peyton Manning in the record book, amassing the most passing yards through his first 13 seasons of any quarterback in NFL history.
So, did he just pick a really bad time to make a really poor throw? Or could it be that he simply could not make a better throw?
“My body feels great,” Ryan told the Atlanta Falcons' official website. “I feel like I’m fresh. I just haven’t played as well as I’ve liked. Today wasn’t good enough on my part.”
Consider that Ryan led 23 game-winning drives, and 16 fourth-quarter comebacks, over his first five seasons. Over the past five, those numbers are eight and seven.
Granted, the Falcons have only been mediocre since their come-from-ahead Super Bowl loss. But that’s a cop-out. They had a chance to beat the Bears at the end of their game in Week 3, but Ryan snuffed it by overthrowing Ridley for the clinching interception.
He was intercepted in the end zone against Carolina. He had two chances at the end of the second Saints game a week ago and failed to deliver on either.
A quarterback with a career like Ryan’s doesn’t just forget how to play the game or how to read defenses. But he might not be able to make the throws he used to.
Our next candidate, Geoff Collins, became incensed during the final minute of Georgia Tech’s loss to Pitt. Collins felt that Pitt’s AJ Woods interfered with Jalen Camp’s ability to come back for an end zone pass thrown by Jordan Yates.
Off came Collins’ headset. When last seen it was sailing with great velocity over the Tech bench. It might have been the strongest throw made inside Bobby Dodd Stadium Thursday night.
Collins did have the advantage of having some anger behind his throw. He exhibited this anger during the post-game walk-by of Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi.
As Collins repeatedly declared during his postgame press conference, “I was just focused on getting our guys over to the band to celebrate. I don’t even remember what I said, to be honest with you.”
Sadly, the handshake snub overshadowed the headset hurl, so we don’t know what Collins thinks of his arm strength. We can only verify that the exit velocity was impressive.
Our third candidate, Florida’s Marco Wilson, made what appeared to be the most impressive throw of the week. After assisting on a key tackle to stop an LSU drive with 2 minutes remaining in a tie game, Wilson found himself with the shoe of the tackled Tiger in his hand.
He immediately concocted the most logical solution for ridding himself of the alien shoe. He hurled it down the field. This garnered an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for, as referee James Carter explained, “throwing the LSU player’s shoe 20 yards down the field.”
You know the throw was impressive if the referee mentioned the distance the projectile traveled during his penalty announcement.
The throw became more impressive when described by Florida coach Dan Mullen to ESPN.com. Wilson “made the tackle, and part of the football move, the kid’s shoe was in his hand, and he kind of threw it and jumped and celebrated with his teammates.”
Kind of threw the shoe? Come on. If he kind of threw a cleated shoe 20 yards, he should have been throwing that last pass to Ridley on Sunday.