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Falcons Team Report/Inside Slant


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Atlanta Falcons
INSIDE SLANT

  Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel | Player Wire

  Ryan, Falcons looks to improve playoff record

Quarterback Matt Ryan doesn't feel there's any added playoff pressure on him after a three-year hiatus.

The NFC South champion Falcons (11-5) will face the highest seed to advance from the NFC wild-card round at 4:35 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Georgia Dome.

Ryan, who was drafted in 2008, took the Falcons to the playoffs in four of his first five seasons in the league. The team has missed the playoffs for the last three seasons before earning the No. 2 seed this time.

Ryan has a 1-4 record in the playoffs as the Falcons were knocked out each time by the team that went on to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Green Bay and the New York Giants went on to win Super Bowl titles, while Arizona and San Francisco lost in the Super Bowl.

"I don't think so," Ryan said. "We've won in the playoffs before. I don't really worry about that too much. For me, it's about how do we get the one win next week, whoever it's going to be against. I think putting any more pressure on yourself, other than that, is a waste of time."

The Falcons reached the NFC championship game after the 2012 season. Ryan and the slightly-favored Falcons were knocked out of the wild-card round after the 2008 season by Arizona.

After missing the playoffs in 2009, the Falcons were the No. 1 seed after the 2010 season, but were upset by Green Bay, 48-21, at the Georgia Dome. Green Bay went on to beat Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl.

Following the 2011 season, the Giants called out the Falcons offensive linemen as "dirt bags" and shut down Ryan and the offense in a 24-2 rout. The Giants went on to beat New England in the Super Bowl.

After the 2012 season, the Falcons defeated Seattle in the divisional round after blowing a 10-point lead. In the championship game, the Falcons' blew a 17-point lead and lost to the 49ers, 28-24.

"I think that's one of the things that I've learned," Ryan said. "All of the extra-curricular pressure, the outside noise that people talk about, doesn't make a difference.

"What makes a difference is how well we play. In order to play well, we need to practice well."

Ryan noted that the Falcons could win the Super Bowl without playing a down outdoors.

"I think any quarterback would be lying to you if they said they didn't like playing a dome where you are going to have good conditions to throw the ball," Ryan said. "I think that's a good thing for us. We are ready to play wherever, but obviously, playing indoors as a quarterback is always pretty nice."

The fact that Falcons coach Dan Quinn has been to two Super Bowls as Seattle's defensive coordinator helps his message in the locker room.

"I think that talk of keeping it normal, keeping the routine normal and based on what we've done up until this point, I think that's really true," Ryan said on his radio show on 680 the Fan. "Dan talks all the time about the way that we prepare, the way that we practice, the way that we compete, makes everything seem real normal when we get in the games. I think that's true. I think guys have done that.

"I think the approach and knowing that Dan knows how to get it done, he's been there and has gone through that process before makes a difference. He understands what it takes, guys believe in that and trust in his process."

 

Notes, Quotes

  Falcons coach Dan Quinn said the left shoulder injury sustained by linebacker Vic Beasley on Sunday against the Saints won't limit the Pro Bowl linebacker and won't prevent him from practicing this week.

"He came through the game fine," Quinn said Monday. "It was sore, but he did a really good job."

The injury forced Beasley to leave the game in the first quarter before returning before halftime. Beasley said his shoulder popped out of place and that he believed the injury was to his labrum. Beasley played his rookie season of 2015 with a torn labrum in the opposite shoulder.

Beasley led the NFL this season with 15.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. The Falcons selected him with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft.

The Falcons hope to get tight end Austin Hooper (knee) back from injury for next week's game.

All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones (toe) was closer to 100 percent against the Saints, but welcomed the bye week rest.

Wide receiver Taylor Gabriel (foot) is expected to return soon.

The NFL has rules for teams interviewing coaches in the playoffs. Falcons coach Dan Quinn knows the rules well. He was interviewed during the "open" period back in 2014 when he landed the Falcons' head coaching post. The team elected to wait for him to finish his duties with as Seattle's defensive coordinator.

Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who has the league's top-scoring offense, is set to interview with Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Denver and San Francisco over the weekend.



BY THE NUMBERS: 117.1 Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's league-leading passer rating.



QUOTE TO NOTE:
"For us, it's not a distraction because we do what we do and you don't have to leave anywhere to (interview). There's not a process that changes. I can comment on that because I went through it first-hand. Really as coaches any work that you may do it's been done long ago." Falcons coach Dan Quinn. on offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan interviewing for head coaching positions.

 

 

Strategy & Personnel

 Falcons running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are a key part of the offense. They combined for 2,482 yards and 24 touchdowns as rushing and pass-receiving threats.

Freeman, who was selected to the Pro Bowl, rushed 227 times for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns.

Coleman, who missed three games because of a hamstring injury, rushed 118 times for 520 yards and eight touchdowns. He also caught 31 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns.

PLAYER NOTES

QB Matt Ryan completed 373 of 534 passes (69.9 percent) for 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 117.1 passer rating, the fifth-highest single-season passer rating in NFL history.

WR Julio Jones had 83 catches for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns.

DE Dwight Freeney finished with three sacks.

DE Adrian Clayborn finished with 4.5 sacks.

LB Vic Beasley finished with 15.5 sacks, which was tops in the league.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: OLB/DE Vic Beasley helped to revive the team's pass rush in 2016. Rushing from defensive end in nickel situations, he finished with 15.5 sacks to lead the league. The Falcons finished with 34 sacks, which ranked them tied for 16th in the league.

The Falcons had only 19 sacks in 2015, which was 32nd in the league.

"He did great," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Beasley.

Beasley (shoulder) left the final game against the Saints, but returned to the action.

"Once I knew he came out I was really pumped for him to say, like he knew how important it was to come and battle for his guys," coach Dan Quinn said. "He came through the game fine and it was sore, but he did a really good job."

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This Falcons team has way more fire power on offense than the 2012 team had. This Falcons team has a defense that has more fire in it, than the 2012 team had. IMO, this Falcons team is superior to the 2012 team, with an offense that scores more, and a defense that creates turnovers. I also, don't think the playoff competition in the NFC is any better now, than it was in 2012. I like our chances.

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I was talking to my cousin who is a saints fan. He acted surprised when we swept them. I told him this is not the same Ole falcons. This scary thing about this team is that they are better than the 2012 and they are young. I see multiple superbowl appearances from them in the future.

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