Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has the offense purring along at a high rate.
While the offense has come out of the gate on fire, the attack has left Falcons all-time leading receiver Roddy White off to the side in three of the four games.
White, who was not at practice Wednesday as he dealt with a family medical emergency, has expressed his desire to be more involved in the attack.
“It’s one of those things,” Ryan said. “I always want guys who want the ball. I’ve always wanted that throughout my career. Competitive guys want to be involved.”
White caught four passes for 84 yards in the opener against the Eagles, but has since virtually disappeared as wide receiver Leonard Hankerson has become the second option after star Julio Jones. White didn’t have a catch against the Giants and the Cowboys and had two against the Texans for eight yards.
“I know Roddy as well as anybody in this building, and he’s about winning,” Ryan said. “There is no question about it. I understand that he’s a competitor, and he wants to make some more plays.”
The Falcons’ offense, under the direction of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, leads the NFL or is near the lead in several key offensive categories after four games.
- The Falcons lead the league in red-zone touchdown percentage. In 15 trips inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, they’ve scored 12 touchdowns (80 percent).
- They are averaging 34.3 points, which ranks third in the league behind New England (39.7) and Arizona (37).
- They rank second in third-down conversion percentage, at 54.1 (33-of-61). New England leads the league at 60 percent (21-of-35).
- They rank fifth in overall yards (403.3 per game), fifth in passing yards (289.8 per game) and 13th in rushing yards (113.4 yards per game).
“There are things that you want to dictate on offense,” Ryan said. “Then, there are also things that when they present them, you have to adjust to what they are doing.”
Ryan’s teammates have been impressed with how quickly he’s been able to master the new offense.
“It’s uncanny to see how much of a football player and how smart he is,” tight end Levine Toilolo said. “They are able to put a lot on him as far as making audibles. Matt does a great job of always having us with a great play going into a favorable look.”
Quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur has also been impressed with Ryan’s quick and skill command of the offense.
“That’s just a testament to how he works and how he studies,” LaFleur said. “He’s a consummate pro. He’s so focused, and it’s all about getting better.”
As far as getting White involved, Ryan believes that day is coming.
“I really believe that as the year goes on, the ball is going to find different people,” Ryan said. “The way that people are defending us and having to adjust to where Julio is at, coverage is going to allow other guys to step up and make a lot of plays.
“This week it was Hank. The first week it was Roddy. He had a big week against Philly. It’s going to be different guys. He’s going to make a ton of plays.”
Ryan is supporting White through this rough patch.
“To me, I’ve been around him, this is eight seasons together, and he’s always been a consummate professional and one of the best teammates I’ve ever been around,” Ryan said.
Ryan doesn’t plan to start forcing passes to White.
“He knows that when I’m out there, I’m going through progressions looking at what coverage they are playing against us and trying to find ways to move the ball and find a completion,” Ryan said. “As you continue to do that, the ball is going to find different guys as the year goes on. I’ve always kind of operated that way.”
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