Falcons’ Matt Ryan: ‘We’re striving for more consistency’

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

Combined ShapeCaption
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan talks through how the offensive playbook has developed through the season.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who is big fan of the Braves, spoke to the local media Wednesday.

The Falcons (2-3) are set to face the Miami Dolphins (1-5) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Here’s what Ryan had to say:

On the progress of the offense: “Yeah, I think, you know, we’ve been getting better as the year has gone on, which is good. I think everybody’s getting more comfortable. I think when you look through five weeks there’s a lot to clean up. (There are) a lot of things we can do better, and that’s encouraging. I think we’ll make those corrections as we move forward, but all in all, you know five games in there’s been, you know, some good and some that needs to be cleaned up. That’s our task this week is to try and improve and get better during practice this week so we play our best game of the year this Sunday.”

On the progress of the rushing attack: “Again, I think we’re improving. I think at certain times in games we’ve done a nice job running the football. We’re striving for more consistency. You know, I think, like we are in all parts of our game, but I thought our last time out, we ran the football efficiently and effectively, and you know that’s going to be something that if we want to be a really good football team moving forward, we’re gonna have to do that well.”

On preparing for the Dolphins’ defense: “Yeah, they do a nice job of creating confusion and giving you tough looks. You know, testing, all your rules, whether it be in the run game or the pass game. So we’ve certainly got to be prepared for a number of different looks, and we have to have solutions and answers for those looks when we get out there.”

On the joint practices with the Dolphins: “I think both teams are, you know there’s an evolution as the year goes on and your team changes from sometimes what you think it might be during training camp to what it becomes. I think your take away (from the practices) is that they play hard. They play with really good effort and they’re tough and physical. We’re gonna to have our mind and energy right for Sunday. But as far as scheme stuff. there’s also five games worth of tape out there, too. So I think some of the things you saw on training camp will be similar, and they probably are doing a few things, you know, to, you know, probably a little bit different than what we saw in training camp because of just game-plan specific things that they’ve done against different teams.”

On if he’ll take with former college teammate Brian Flores: “Yeah, postgame on Sunday. I mean, I always wish Brian the best. I’ve known him for a long time, and you know I’m proud of what he’s done and accomplished. I wish him the best, but he also knows we’re both trying to accomplish the same thing this week and that’s get a win.”

On what he remembers about practicing against Flores: “I just remember getting my (expletive) kicked most days. (Laughs) That’s the, you know, those are one of the years you want to like delete from your memory, right. It’s the scout team getting pushed around. An 18-year-old kid probably 190 pounds at that time, getting tossed around. I just, you know, honestly, just remember, he was just tough, a tough football player. You knew, he always wanted to kind of go into that coaching side or personnel side he was kind of a football (guy). It was in his blood, and you could tell that even from a young age. He was a guy that was serious about what he did, and he’s done a great job.”

On the key to breaking big runs in the run game: “I mean, everybody would love to be getting those explosives with regularity. I think it’s difficult in this league. I think the way you do it is, it takes all 11 guys, being on the same page, consistently for four quarters. You never know which is the one that’s going to pop. Everybody has to be doing their job, doing their assignment and playing with great effort, consistently for four quarters. I think we can do a better job of that. You talk about getting some of those runs to come out the out the back end of the defense a little bit more consistently.”

More on the rushing attack: “That’s huge. I mean, it makes everybody’s life, you know a little bit easier and, certainly, you know, makes a defense reconsider some of how they’re trying to fit the run game. If we can get that going, that’d be huge.”

On his relationship with center Matt Hennessy: “Yeah, I think it’s been getting better, and that’s what you want when you’re playing with guys for the first real extended amount of time. I think, you know you want to see consistent improvement. Matt has done a great job. I mean he works extremely hard. Had a great mentor to learn from in Alex (Mack) and to see how to do it the right way. And, you know, I Matt has been doing everything he can to get himself ready to go. He’s done a nice job for us.”

On what his vision was for the team in training camp versus where they are now: “Yeah, I think, you know, your vision, earlier is to just be this dominant football team that goes in road grades everybody. You know every week and that’s not always the case. I think you finding out a lot about guys like CP (Cordarrelle Patterson) and Mike Davis, guys you’re playing with for the first time. Kyle Pitts turning into what he’s going to become as a player. You know how you thought maybe … teams would defend him on the field and what they would do. Now, maybe it’s a little bit different, so we’re utilizing him in different ways. I think all those things, you know, play a factor. I think when he talked about your offensive line we had a lot of unknowns in that department, too. What run plays and what kind of runs are we going to feature as we get going. What’s going to be our protections. You have this kind of really massive playbook. It kind of tends to shrink itself as the year goes on (as) you figure out the things that you do well, that fit your guys and 50 opponents are going against. We still (have) a long way to go. It’s still early, but I think you’re starting to see us trend in certain directions, at least I feel that way.”

On training-camp expectations: “Yeah. And the opposite is true of that as well. There’s teams I’ve been on and you go in with high expectations and it doesn’t shake out the way you might think. Then there’s years you go into it with high expectations and they do come to fruition. I’ve been a part of both. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason for it. It’s just the way things shake out, but I always go back to the good football teams that I’ve been on throughout my career, are the ones that expected a lot of themselves and put in the work and didn’t take anything for granted. I do see that from this team. I think there’s guys that work hard and are on that quest to get better every day.”

On how Calvin Ridley looked Monday: “Good. I thought he practiced well for us. Was out there flying around, which is always been the case for him. I mean he comes out and he plays with unbelievable energy and great speed. I thought he looked great.”

On playing without Ridley and Russell Gage vs. Jets: “It’s always tough when guys go down, there’s no question about that. You always like to have the full complement of players because they’re such talented guys. But I’m, you know, proud of the way the guys, the other wide receivers stepped up and filled that void. They played tough. It’s a really good group that we have, an unselfish group of guys that all pull for each other and you know that’s the case with guys being out like Calvin and Russ. They’re pulling for guys like (Olamide Zaccheaus) or Tajae (Sharpe) to step up and play well. It’s cool to see as a teammate. That’s what you want, you want a bond of guys that you know are encouraging others and also want to do well for themselves.”

More on the receivers: “It should create, you know confidence and belief that when their time comes, they’re ready to go. They’ve proven that, over and over throughout the season, even when those guys were up, at different times in games. I think back for like Tajae and (Zaccheaus) in New York, playing against the Giants both those guys came up with huge plays for us in critical situations. I would only imagine that it helps to build their confidence as they’re moving forward.”

On the Dolphins defense: “They are aggressive in terms of pressuring, sending guys at you. Trying to create problems in your protection. They play tight-man and man coverage, you know, which forces your guys to be really good on the outside getting releases and winning one-on-one matchups. They also know how to get out of that and give you certain looks that you think you might be getting pressure and get out to zone-type looks. Same with giving you man-to-man (coverage) looks in a secondary, but then playing, zone type of coverages. They try and stretch in a lot of different ways.”

On how much of the playbook he knows: “There are new things that come up throughout the season, but of the stuff we installed in training camp, if I don’t know 100% of it, probably not good. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good command of everything we sit down in the office and talk about as we’re going through it. But there are certain things that come up through the course of the year where we might say, I know we haven’t done this up until this point, but, you know, I think we might need to add it.”

On resting and trying to improve over the bye week: “I mean, I thought it was good work we got, during the bye week to on Tuesday and Wednesday getting back here in the building, getting some of our developmental guys on the field, to go out there and get work. I watched a little bit of it as I was kind of getting some my body work done. I thought they put in good effort. One of the things you can, you know look at in terms of improvement is your own daily schedules and what you’ve been doing in your routine for the first five weeks. What might have worked. What are areas you might want to cut out. That’s one of the things I’ve talked about with some of our different guys is just making sure as we get into this, you know, long-haul stretch of the season, we’re in a really good spot of, week to week, knowing what our preparation looks like and how we can hit those spots. I really believe that’s one of the ultimate ways that that helps you play better.”

On his support for the Braves: “It hurt last night. I felt like everybody else. A good pitch, too, but just a great swing on a high fastball that kind of blew that game open. So yeah, I’m pulling for them. Tonight, they’re at eight o’clock. ... That’s a little too late for me. ... The games are going forever, too. They’ve been long games. I watched every pitch last night. I was bummed for the guys, but they’re up 2-1. They’re playing great, so I’m pulling for them.”

On if he missed Calvin Ridley in the last game: “I mean, yeah, you know when guys aren’t out there, but when you’re playing, you’re there with the guys, you’re with. It changes. It’s so different from other sports where personnel changes every play. So you’re in that huddle and four new guys come in almost every other snap. When you’re out there operating, you operate with the guys that are out there. So, I mean yeah, you know, the guys aren’t there like a Russ, like a Calvin, but when you’re on the field you operate with the guys that you have.”

On the development of safety Richie Grant: “I think you nailed it. I think the key is to play really good on special teams, and it gives you, you know, it gives you an opportunity to be up on the roster as frequently as you can be. Because experience of playing, you know, it just can’t be replicated. I think when you talk about comparisons to other guys, it’s hard. You know everybody’s different. The scheme’s different than what those guys were playing with (former coach) Mike Smith and at different times with (former coach) Dan Quinn, but the constants of good players, it’s the same. It’s hard work. It’s being passionate about what you do. It’s really caring. Like genuinely caring, and, you know, Richie shows that day-in and day-out. He practices with great energy (and) positivity. He’s fun, you know he’s fun to be around, but he knows how to get to work when it’s time. I think that’s going to serve him well.”

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Atlanta Falcons Schedule

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons at Miami Dolphins, Oct. 24 at 1 p.m.

Here’s the rest of full schedule