Falcons know they are in danger of losing the entire offseason program

The Falcons are ready to continue sheltering in place for the foreseeable future, but the team facilities are set to open on Tuesday, according to the team.

The team will open the facilities with a limited number of staff and full safety precautions taken.

It is not known when the players will be allowed to return with just over three weeks left in the offseason program. The team has been holding their offseason program virtually.

In a memo sent to the 32 teams Friday by Commissioner Roger Goodell and obtained by The Associated Press, he stressed that the clubs must be “in compliance with any additional public health requirements in their jurisdiction, and have implemented the protocols that were developed by (league medical officer) Dr. (Allen) Sills and distributed to all clubs on May 6.”

“The (league) asked for the guidelines to be in place for all of the clubs,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “I would tend to agree with (Pittsburgh coach) Mike (Tomlin) from a player and coaching standpoint that we all (should) have the same opportunities and access to the players.

“Whatever those guidelines look like, I think that’s still out there. It seems like that it would make sense from a player-and-coaching standpoint that we are all are able to follow the same guidelines when that time comes.”

The Falcons are set to enter Week 5 of their virtual offseason program. Their 26 rookies had a virtual minicamp last weekend.

Last season, the Falcons mandatory minicamp was held June 11-13, and they opened training camp in late July.

While the entire offseason on-field work is in jeopardy, Quinn is being flexible.

“You set up the first plan for camp, and when it is, those are still intact,” Quinn said. “So, I think that’s the best way to do it. The stuff that’s way down the line, that’s difficult to go in to.

“For us, it’s how do you (proceed with maximum effort) this week, and what do you want to get done by Friday. For next week, if new guidelines are in place, you go for it again.”

There is no timeline.

“As far as the timeline, we’ve stayed consistent to when we started our offseason program,” Quinn said. “As opposed to the guys being here in person on the 18th of April, we started it virtually. Past that ... the big discussions come from the league, and those are the guidelines that we are following.”

Amid the shutdown, Falcons safety Ricardo Allen is recovering from shoulder surgery.

“This is nerve-racking,” Allen said. “This is different. This is something that us as players and us as humans, we have never had to think about before. It’s like, it’s tough to look at the news sometimes and see all of the cases, all of the trauma and the deaths that are going on in this world.

“We know that no one is immune to it. You might just be a little bit better off. You just never know if you’ve come in contact with it or not.”

Allen doesn’t know what a return to action will look like.

“I don’t know, man,” Allen said. “I really don’t. … I just want to watch, follow and see, what they are going to do. I would not like to be that person with that job.

“I don’t want to be that person who has to design what is going to go on. I can’t really tell you like what I would do if I were in that position. That’s a lot of work right there.

I’m anxious to see.”

The notion of playing the games before no fans is being widely discussed among the players.

“I try to act like no one is there,” Allen said. “It’s just me in here. I have to get it done. That’s the mindset that I come with, if that is what we have to do and this is the new norm, I’m going to find a way in my mind to switch faster than somebody who needs the fans.”

But can you really block out the fans and play an emotional game like football?

“It would be weird, but I think I know the world needs sports,” Allen said. “If I have to sacrifice and go play football with just a camera man following us around, I would play some ball.”

The Falcons have made some adjustments to how much they want the players to have to process in this offseason.

“We are taking the approach that we have to do less,” Koetter said. “If the players were here, you’re in the classroom. You’re going to go out there and walk through it. Then you’re going to actually practice full speed and then you’re going to watch the tape and review it. Well, we’ve lost three of the four steps.

“In our minds, it’s just common sense. Instead of putting in 10 things a day, we better put in six things a day.”

Once the Falcons do get back together, they have to figure out why the offense stalled in between the 30- and 35-yard lines last season.

“We studied it a lot,” Koetter said. “We actually, for whatever reason, when we hit the opposing 31-yard line, between the 31-and 35-yard line ... we were terrible. We bogged down a lot.”

The Falcons studied the problem and concluded that they had too many negative plays, such as stuffed runs, sacks or a penalty.

“We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves in that plus-30 area,” Koetter said.

That’s a problem that can’t be fixed on a video conference call.

“We looked at do we need to simply plays there,” Koetter said. “Do we need to get the ball out of Matt’s hands quicker. We looked at all of that. That’s something that we definitely have to address moving forward.”

Also, the breadth of what the Falcons can try to execute on offense will be affected.

“NFL playbooks are huge, and they are bigger than they need to be,” Koetter said. “You’re only averaging 64 plays in an offensive game. Within those 64 plays, you are probably going to have some repeat plays.”

Koetter said he’s keeping the plays that worked and throwing out the ones that didn’t work.

“Every NFL playbook has hundreds and hundreds of plays in it,” Koetter said.


The Bow Tie Chronicles Podcasts:

Can be found on Google, iTunes and TuneIn

For more content about the Atlanta Falcons:

Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

Atlanta Falcons coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Have a question? Email me at dledbetter@ajc.com