The news that quarterback Matt Ryan is throwing lots of interceptions early in training camp sent Falcons fans in a Twitter tizzy. It’s just practice, but any talk about Ryan interceptions carries weight after he had probably his worst season since his first two in the NFL.
Coach Dan Quinn said he’s not worried about Ryan’s interceptions because of context.
“This is the time to try everything, whether is a different route or a different look,” Quinn said Tuesday after Ryan threw a virtual pick-six during the team period. “It’s also an important part for the defense, too, to know how they get after the ball. For us, this is what this time is all about is getting the timing down and getting the routes right. Some of that happens in our training camp practice. But for us, it’s about the ball, we know that.”
Ryan’s interception on Tuesday came on a play he’s had trouble with at times: a pass to his left outside of the numbers. Ryan floated the pass intended for Julio Jones, leaving cornerback Robert Alford plenty of time to cut underneath and catch it. Ryan finished the 2015 season as the #19 QB after finishing in the top 8 in four of the previous five seasons. (The only miss was the year Julio Jones was injured.) The team replaced a fading Roddy White with Mohamed Sanu, who should serve as a solid if unspectacular second option.
Friday, January 1, 2016, 6:26pm
Wednesday, December 30, 2015, 6:13pm
Ryan was hit on his left hip by Panthers safety Kurt Coleman on a third-and-2 scramble from the Carolina 11-yard line late in the first quarter. He picked up seven yards on the play while eluding an attempted tackle from Pro Bowl linebacker Thomas Davis. Ryan didn’t slide and absorbed the hit, which appeared to leave him wincing in pain throughout the game. The play set up a four-yard touchdown run by Devonta Freeman.
Ryan played the remainder of the game and should be good to go in Week 17 but it may be something you want to keep an eye on.
He has not been listed on the injury report and has denied that he’s playing injured. However, a photo by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Curtis Compton clearly shows that Ryan wore a pretty heavy brace on his left knee against the Colts.
Early in his career, he wore a brace on his left knee for support, the story said. Sometimes, he even practiced in the brace. The brace may explain some of his footwork issues and sailing some throws because he can’t plant his left foot. Ryan was unavailable to the media on Monday, but has a radio show on Tuesday where we may find out more.
On his weekly appearance on 680 The Fan, Ryan dismissed those concerns.
“I am healthy,” Ryan said.
He tracked all of his problems to execution of the new offense. He cited a tipped pass on one of his interceptions against the Titans and he wished he never made the throw on the screen pass in the 10-7 win over Tennessee.
Ryan also discussed his incompleted pass to Julio Jones on fourth down, which ended with them having an animated conversation on the sideline.
The normally accurate Ryan has thrown two interceptions in three games this season, and has completed less than 60 percent of his passes in two of the past three games after a stretch of 14 consecutive games where he completed 60 percent or better.
Falcons beat writer Vaughn McClure:
Something tells me Roddy White will be targeted more than once this week. Sure, Matt Ryan found himself a couple of nice new targets in Leonard Hankerson and Jacob Tamme, but the veteran White won’t be squeezed out of the equation. White might not be productive every week, but I expect him to bounce back in a big way after seeing his streak of consecutive games with a catch end at 128. White has 16 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown in three career matchups with the Cowboys, including two 100-yard receiving games.
Only one other quarterback in the NFL dropped back for more passes last season than Matt Ryan.
And while Ryan still figures to pass it plenty in the Atlanta Falcons new offense called by Kyle Shanahan, seeing Shanahan’s playbook – which requires a quarterback to move in the pocket – he knew he’d have to change his offseason workouts.
“Keepers, that wasn't really a big part of Matt's game for the last four or five years, for him to get back into that, he's had to push his conditioning really good,” head coach Dan Quinn told USA TODAY Sports. “And he's worked really hard at that.”
Shanahan isn’t going to ask Ryan to morph into Robert Griffin III circa 2012, when Shanahan and his father, Mike Shanahan, ran the offense in Washington. But picture mid-2000s Jake Plummer for the Denver Broncos, with his naked bootlegs and scrambles.
Shanahan’s offense will require more of Ryan than seven-stop drops and Quinn is hoping that means a better, more diverse and explosive offense.
There were positive signs in the preseason. Ryan was nearly flawless in his exhibition work, completing 72.2 % of his passes, with a pair of touchdown throws and no interceptions, numbers that were especially encouraging considering the Falcons spent much of the preseason without starting running back Devonta Freeman and No. 2 wide receiver Roddy White, and he was playing behind a makeshift offensive line as starters like left tackle Jake Matthews and center Joe Hawley dealt with injuries, the story said. The good news for fantasy owners is Ryan may end up getting them some points with his feet as well.
Falcons beat writer Vaughn McClure: No one figured Leonard Hankerson would emerge as a fantasy target based on his career numbers in four seasons with the Redskins. Hankerson has just six touchdowns in 31 career games (123 targets). Injuries have hampered his progress, but a healthy Hankerson has a legit chance to be a secondary threat behind Julio Jones. Hankerson already showed he could be a scoring target with a 2-yard touchdown reception from Matt Ryan in a preseason matchup against the Jets.
Sunday, August 16, 2015, 9:05am
T.J. Yates didn't enter training camp thinking he was entitled to anything.
Although the Atlanta Falcons quarterback has one playoff win under his belt and essentially ran offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme when he played for Gary Kubiak in Houston, Yates knew how key preseason games would be in determining the backup to starter Matt Ryan.
Yates would be the first to admit his first live action this season was a little shaky. He took over for Ryan after one series and completed 9 of 15 passes for 105 yards with an interception in 32 snaps. He was sacked once and had a passer rating of 53.5.
Yates, who ran his share of bootlegs, wishes he had a couple of passes back as he was obviously off target. There appeared to be miscommunication between himself and rookie receiver Justin Hardy on the interception.
Meanwhile, Renfree completed 6 of 7 passes for 68 yards in 23 snaps. His passer rating was 107.1.
“In this league it takes a group at that spot,” Ryan said. “I think we have the right group to do it.”
“Anytime you can run the football and you can run it effectively is slows down the pass rush,” Ryan said. “That’s the goal for us, to be balanced on offense and to be able to get that run game going. I think Kyle has a great scheme in terms of the zone blocking scheme. We have to rep it. Get better at it. Get on the same page, all 11 of us on offense. Once we do that, I think that will help.”
The story added that Ryan wouldn't pick a favorite out of the group, and he very well may be taking the high road as a lot needs to be sorted out as far as the Falcons RBs go. The Falcons are installing a outside-zone blocking scheme under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan the story added.
Third-round draft pick Justin Hardy has made a good first impression on some of his fellow skill position players. On Tuesday, Matt Ryan praised the WR for his consistent improvements; today, Julio Jones commended Hardy for the way he’s responded to challenges thrown his way.
According to wide receiver Roddy White, the offense won’t be as reliant as throwing the ball as they were last season. The Falcons were third in the league with 39.5 attempts per game last season and White expects that number to drop significantly in 2015.
“We’re not going to be passing 35-40 times a game,” White said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
That may well be the plan, but the Falcons are going to have to be a lot more effective running the ball than they were last year if they are going to cut down on the size of the roles that White, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan play in the offense.
Falcons are hiring Kyle Shanahan as their OC, per league source. Shanahan and (Seattle DC) Dan Quinn planned to be package deal.
Dirk Koetter, 55, agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Buccaneers with an option in 2017. He interviewed for the job last week and brings familiarity with the NFC South. Before coming to Atlanta, he spent five seasons as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, following stints as head coach at Boise State and Arizona State.
During his three seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons ranked eighth, 14th and eighth in total offense. The Falcons' Matt Ryan posted the three highest passing yardage seasons in franchise history under Koetter, as well as three of the four highest completion percentage seasons.
That's important because the Bucs have the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft and are in position to select either Florida State's Jameis Winston or Oregon junior Marcus Mariota, who has yet to declare.
Koetter runs a pro-style offense that is heavy on the passing side, which could be a fit for Winston. But he also has a strong connection on the Mariota side — Oregon coach Mark Helfrich was Koetter's quarterbacks coach for eight years, at Boise State (1998-2000) and Arizona State (2001-05).
This looks like a good hire for whomever the Bucs tap to be quarterback in 2015.
- Page 1