FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who continues to struggle with interceptions, was relatively upbeat on his weekly radio show on 680 The Fan on Tuesday.
Here are the five things we learned from the show (followed by an edited-for-clarity transcript):
1. Support for Shanahan. He gave the offensive coordinator a vote of confidence. As the evidence mounts, it’s clear that teams have adjusted to the Falcons and the offense has been slow to counter.
2. Nick Williams got chewed out. Falcons wide receiver Nick Williams, who had a key dropped pass on the second-to-last possession caught the ire of Ryan. He not only dropped the ball, but apparently ran the wrong route or route adjustment.
3. Panthers defense is stout. He talks about the Panthers’ stout defense which is led by linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.
4. An update on the no-huddle. The Falcons used it effectively against Tampa Bay and may use it more against Carolina.
5. Holiday shopping. Ryan is a big-time online shopper.
Here’s what Ryan had to say:
On the five-game losing streak:
“It was a disappointing loss. If felt like we had multiple opportunities to finish that game. It not only comes down to the last drive of the game where we had a turnover on the first play. We didn’t give ourselves a chance. We had opportunities on offense where we had a number of times to come away with more points, score touchdowns and then also on the second to last drive in the game, we had some opportunities to get that drive going and we didn’t do it. That’s where we have got to get better. We’ve got to learn how to finish in those situations.”
On what’s happening in the red zone:
“We’ve got to execute a little better. When we have opportunities to make a play, we have to make it. We’ve had a lot of drives….We’re No. 1 in the league, I think, in drives of 10 or more plays. That’s a good thing. You’re doing a lot of good things to get down there. Touchdowns happen from all different places. We have to find some ways to get one from outside that red area to create an explosive play to get in. When you look at how points are scored, that’s a great way of scoring points. We have to find a way to get that done.”
On throwing it to Julio Jones more in the red zone:
“It’s a numbers game. When they (put) two guys, one to play underneath and one over the top help, it becomes difficult to throw that fade ball up, that one-on-one ball. Typically, in a third down situation… you’re going to get coverage (as opposed to a blitz) and they are going to double Julio. Sometimes when you get those opportunities for the fade ball. . .it’s a first or second down call. Tampa just played us with two high safeties the entire time with help over the top of Julio and that makes it difficult to do that.” (ASIDE: This doesn’t address the fact that Jones can beat double-coverage or why they can’t move him around to confuse the coverage or hide him in the backfield on some plays. The Falcons have to get creative.)
On yelling at wide receiver Nick Williams after he dropped a third down pass:
“In that situation, everybody is emotional. It’s an intense situation in the game. That’s just one of the things where we can execute better. We can be more on the same page. To me, that’s a situation where we can finish a game. It’s a huge third down situation. Nick and I talked it through and we’re on the same page. Hopefully, that’s a learning experience for us and we won’t make that mistake again.”
On throwing an interception on the last drive:
“…It’s all about getting the drive started. So, getting that first first-down. That’s always what I’ve talked about and what we’ve always talked about in those situations. Let’s get the first down and get the ball moving and then get into our no-huddle situation, where I think we are very good and our two-minute situation. That’s probably the most disappointing thing for me is that we didn’t’ give ourselves an opportunity to get into it and do what we do very well.”
On if he is second-guessing himself with a 17 to 13, touchdown to interception ratio:
“I’ve had a couple plays that haven’t been good. That’s what happens in these situations. For me, we’ve had a couple of interceptions that we can’t live with and we’ve got to correct those. The biggest things is that we’ve got to find more ways to score touchdowns. That’s the number one thing, we’ve got to get that number up. Whether if its rushing touchdowns. Whether if its passing touchdowns. Whatever it is we’ve to find away to score more touchdowns. I’m very confident in myself. I believe that we are going to get it done this week.”
On Tevin Coleman’s pass blocking:
“Mistakes are going to happen.”
On the playbook:
“Kyle and I have done a great job or working together all year. I feel really good about where we are at. Our production hasn’t been there, but in terms of plays and all that kind of stuff I feel really good about how Kyle and I have worked together this year.”
Are you all going into games with more plays than under the previous regime:
“It’s different. There are more plays that’s for sure. But it’s different. In the past, we probably had a smaller plan, but we had so much no-huddle volume that it ends up being about the same number of things. It’s just different. That’s the thing people have to realize. Everybody has a different playbook. Everybody has a different style. Kyle’s is a little bit different from the guy’s that I’ve worked with in the past. With that said, I feel really good about it. I feel like he’s going to be a guy that I can learn a ton from. I believe we’re going to win a lot of games together.”
On how badly the team needs a win:
“We’ve got to get one. Obviously, as the season winds down and we get into the fourth quarter of the season, you opportunities are less. There are only four more. We all understand how it works and how you get into the playoffs. All those kind of things. It’s really important for us. We have to find a way to get it down. We’re going against a really good defense. A really good team this week. But anything could happen in this league. I believe in that and I believe in our guys.”
On Luke Kuechly and the Panthers defense:
“He’s a really good player. Not only physically, but mentally. He’s about as good as I go against every year in terms of checking their things on the defensive side of the ball. He’s really, really smart. Very physical and he does a great job of playing within their scheme. He’s not the only guy on that defense. Thomas Davis is about as good of a linebacker as there is in the NFL. He plays with incredible speed and great instincts. He’s great in the run game, great in the pass game. Then up front, the rotate that defensive line and they’re very deep. This is a really good defense that we’re going against.”
On if more no-huddle would work against the Panthers’ defense:
“For sure, that’s one of the things we’ll take a look at. We did a bunch of that last week down in Tampa. I thought we did it pretty well. It’s something that we’ll take a look at this week and see if it’s an advantage for us. That’s part of the process of watching film and going through these things to try and find what gives us the best chance to be successful.”
On how he’s handling the losing:
“It’s like with anybody, when you’re winning it’s easier to be happy go lucky. There are some times when you are disappointed and frustrated, that’s for sure outside of the building. That’ comes with it. But I really try and do my best to stay position, to keep that positive message whether if it be in the locker room or whether if it be at home. I feel like you get your best energy from that and you play your best when you’re in that mindset. I try as hard as I possibly can, but it’s difficult because you’re not getting the results that you want.”
On his holiday shopping:
“Thank God for online shopping, that’s for sure.”
On if he’s seen the movie Creed:
“I’ve heard. A bunch of the guys on our team have given it really good reviews. I’ve heard it’s really good.”
The Falcons fell to the Buccaneers, 23-19, and have now lost five in a row. CineSport’s Chad Cutler and The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter discuss what went wrong for the slumping Falcons.
GAME COVERAGE — BUCCANEERS 23, FALCONS 19