Each day leading up to the start of training camp, we’ll look at a major issue that faces the Falcons and head coach Dan Quinn as he’s set to enter his third season with the team.
FLOWERY BRANCH — Quarterback Matt Ryan, the first NFL most valuable player in Falcons franchise history, is preparing for his 10th season with the Falcons.
He will lead the team into their new stadium on Sept. 17 against the Green Bay Packers.
Ryan led the league’s top-scoring offense, setting franchise records in passing yards (4,944) and touchdowns (38). He started all 16 games and completed 373 of 534 passes (69.9 completion percentage; third in the NFL), with only seven interceptions and a 117.1 passer rating.
Ryan’s 117.1 rating was the fifth-highest in a season in NFL history. He had a passer rating of 100 or better in 12 games, tying Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and former 49ers quarterback Steve Young for the most 100-plus rating games in a single season.
After such a spectacular season, what will Ryan do for an encore under first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian?
“This is my fourth different offensive coordinator in the NFL,” Ryan said. “So, that’s part of the deal when you play in this league. The one constant is change. I’ve been fortunate to be around here for going on 10 years.”
Despite Ryan having the highest passer rating in the league when not using play-action, the team clearly plans to keep using play-action, rollouts and bootleg action.
New quarterbacks coach Bush Hamdan plans to aid Ryan on the finer points of his game, including the bootlegs and rollouts that are required in the offensive scheme.
“When you look at the offense as a whole, one of the strengths of it is that everything looks the same,” Hamdan said. “A lot of the (play) action passes, a lot of the keepers occur from the simple standpoint is that it looks like a run and all of sudden one guy is switching his route and Matt is getting outside and using that.
“It’s intricate. It’s extremely important in the run game as well. Again, we have the ability to keep them honest. To keep on extra guy out of run defense is critical. It’s a staple of this offense and we just have to continue to grow with it.”
Hamdan, echoing the sentiments of Sarkisian, sees just minor tweaks for Ryan and the scheme.
“Obviously, this is a tremendous system,” Hamdan said. “What they’ve done the last couple of years here really probably changed the league in a lot of ways with what they’ve done.
“But I think every year is new. You have different players every year. You have to be able to feature certain guys and play to their strengths, but again, if I were to give a percentage, I’m not really sure. I definitely think that the system in place is a very good system. Obviously Sark brings … a lot of years of calling plays (in the college ranks) and we’ll benefit from that.”
COUNTDOWN TO TRAINING CAMP
Countdown to Camp: Day 3 — What will MVP Matt Ryan do for an encore?
Countdown to Camp: Day 2 — What makes Julio Jones so great?
Countdown to Camp: Day 1 — Did the Falcons protect the Brotherhood?
Here’s the training camp schedule:
Wednesday, July 26th — Team Reports for Camp
Thursday, July 27th — Practice: 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, July 28th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, July 29th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 30th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Monday, July 31st — Players Off
Tuesday, August 1st — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 2nd — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Thursday, August 3rd —Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, August 4th — Practice 5:05 p.m. – Gates open to the public at 4:05 p.m.
Saturday, August 5th —Players Off
Sunday, August 6th — Practice 9:45 a.m. – Gates open to the public at 8:15 a.m.
Monday, August 7th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, August 8th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 9th — Walkthrough
Thursday, August 10th — at Miami Dolphins – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, August 11th — Walkthrough
Saturday, August 12th — Players Off
Sunday, August 13th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Monday, August 14th —Practice 9:30 a.m.
2017 ATLANTA FALCONS 90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS
THE FALCONS 2017 DRAFT