First off, what do we mean by Top 5 QB? Is that a very little interpretation, which means he's the 5th best QB in the league or are we implying that he's on par with the "Big 4?" i.e. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers (in whatever order you wish to put them).
Because saying he's the 5th best QB? I don't agree, but it's really splitting hairs between how you rank the next 5-15 QBs since after the Big 4 you could make a case for probably that many guys that could be considered 5th best.
But if we're saying Ryan is on par or close to it with the Big 4, I simply cannot abide. He's not. He has the capability? Sure. I could imagine Matt Ryan being 20% better QB, and if that was the case he'd be every bit as good if not better than those other guys. But that 20% is a significant gap to overcome, and that would likely only come if he was surrounded by elite talent (like he was in 2012) and playing under a coaching staff that strove to be an offensive juggernaut rather than one that just wants to do enough to win.
Ryan has been a top 5 QB for the past two years in both completion percentage and yards.
I'm sure the same could have been said about Matt Schaub in 2008 and 2009.
What does he have to do beyond putting up multiple stats in the top 5 in consecutive years, in addition to having, "the most game winning drives," for you to consider him, "top 5?"
For me, it's not about numbers. It's play. Ryan is a very, very, very good QB.
It's about the tape. It's about the throws he doesn't make. How when you watch the All-22, you see how hesitant he is on throws. It goes back to the Dolphins game, which I broke down several plays he didn't make: http://falcfans.com/moneyball-2013-week-3-review-9087
The nail in the coffin for me was that throw Roethlisberger made to Antonio Brown in 2010 AFC Championship game vs. Baltimore with like a minute left in the game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywQ2jwOL0nY
In our reality, Ryan cannot make that throw even if he wanted to, and nothing about what Ryan has put on tape in 6 years says he would even want to. It's the throws Eli did make in those playoff games, famously the one to Manningham in the 2011 Super Bowl. Or Rodgers rolling left and throwing a laser to Greg Jennings in our playoff game in 2010 or this past year to Cobb vs. Bears on a blown coverage. Ryan can't and won't make those throws/plays.
What it means is that other QB's A games will always
be a notch above Ryan's A game until he is first
more willing to make those tough throws downfield and then
show he is capable of making them. Those throws can be the difference between winning and losing.
Unless he plays in an offense like what Bruce Arians runs where the offense is built around throwing down the field, there's zero chance
that Ryan can play at that level. And even if he did play in an Arians-style offense, I'm not convinced he could play at that level. He might be more like Carson Palmer is now in Arizona's offense than Big Ben or Luck were playing under Arians in Pittsburgh and Indy.
I've seen so many late-game situations with Ryan over the years, reviewing those games, reviewing those drives. And when this team plays good teams, there are just too many memorable times where Ryan falls short. Now, I always remind other people that we always forget the games where he does get the job done at the end and remember the games where he doesn't because our brains are biased to seeing the negative.
But until that scale starts to tip heavily in favor of Ryan pulling through in big games agains thte Saints, or in the playoffs, then I'm not going to consider him "Top 5."
And I'm not dogging Ryan. Unlike everybody else, it isn't about taking a side on pro-Ryan or anti-Ryan, it's understanding how knowing EXACTLY who and what Ryan is means you can now start putting the right
pieces around him. And obviously that increases your chances of winning it all, which is all you can do.
That's been the biggest failure of this current regime, their inability to self evaluate. And I believe that's the biggest killer of all or most NFL front office regimes.