NFL Wire News

Falcons’ Ryan still adjusting to new scheme


The Sports Xchange

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan wants the offense to attack more once they cross the 50-yard line, and especially when they reach the red zone. He called it having “killer’s instinct.”

The Falcons have struggled in the red zone after a torrid start this season.

Ryan was diplomatic when discussing the new offense, his ability to audible out of bad plays and not operating out of the no-huddle.

“Obviously, we are different than we were in the past,” Ryan said. “We were a lot more no-huddle kind of the last three or four years with Dirk (Koetter) and really at the end with Mike Mularkey. We were doing a lot of things at the line of scrimmage.

“We are a little bit different from that now. But we definitely… we go to the line of scrimmage with multiple plays a lot of the time. We have the ability to get into what we feel like is the best play for that situation. There is still a lot of that. We are doing a lot of that at the line of scrimmage. It’s just different in how we communicate it and how we get it done.”

Ryan likes the run-pass balance.

“There is a far greater emphasis on running the ball,” he said. “We’re really on the cusp of being a great offense if we can finish drives and take care of the ball.”

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has not had a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback of Ryan’s status before. That may explain why his offenses have struggled in the red zone in Houston, Washington and Cleveland.

In five of his seven years as a coordinator, Shanahan’s units finished in the lower half of the league in red zone percentage with rankings of 26th, 12th, 19th, 29th, fourth, tied for 20th and 24th.

Because of a hot start to the season, the Falcons are currently tied for sixth in red zone touchdown scoring percentage (63.3 percent). They were 10 of 13 scoring touchdowns in the first four games. The Falcons have since slowed down in part because of six red zone turnovers over the past four games.

One way to spruce things up might be to put Ryan in the no-huddle in the red zone and let him attack the defense.

–Linebacker Brooks Reed, the team’s major offseason free agent signee, has just six tackles, but is doing a fine job setting the edge against the run.

He also believes the defense can create more turnovers.

“It’s being in the right position to do it,” Reed said. “Gang tackling. Ripping the ball out. Not just having one guy on the ballcarrier and having it be a mentality where you are ripping for the ball every time and there is more than one guy on the ball carriers. It’s just something that we have to keep on practicing it.”

–Linebacker Justin Durant, who is third on team with 39 tackles, believes the defense can create more turnovers.

“Coach always preaches (about) the ball,” Durant said. “We didn’t make enough plays on defense to get the ball out. That’s one of the things that we have to concentrate on.”

He wasn’t happy with Tampa Bay converting on three third downs during the Buccaneers’ overtime drive last week.

“We just have to make a play,” Durant said. “We put it on ourselves that somebody is going to make a play. We just didn’t do it.”

–Wide receiver C.J. Goodwin was signed to the practice squad on Tuesday. To make room for Goodwin, who played at California (Pa.) University, the Falcons released LaRon Byrd. Goodwin has spent time on Pittsburgh’s practice squad.

–Running back Devonta Freeman leads NFL with 1,062 scrimmage yards, 709 rush yards and 10 touchdown (nine rushing, one receiving). In the past six games, his first six as the starter, he has 956 scrimmage yards (159.3 per game), 666 rushing yards (111 per game) and nine touchdowns (eight rushing, one receiving).

–Wide receiver Julio Jones had 12 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown last week. He leads the NFL with 70 catches.

Over his past 12 games, Jones has 102 catches for 1,505 yards (125.4 per game) and eight touchdowns.

In his only game against San Francisco, the 2012 NFC Championship Game, he had 11 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns.

INJURY NOTES: SS William Moore (groin), WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), CB Robert Alford (groin), C Mike Person (ankle) and LB Justin Durant (calf) did not practice Wednesday. … WR Nick Williams (hamstring) was limited in practice on Wednesday, CB Desmond Trufant (lower back) and C James Stone (calf) were limited in practice.

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