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Steve Sarkisian adapting to scheme but it’s Matt Ryan’s offense now


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Steve Sarkisian adapting to scheme but it’s Matt Ryan’s offense now

Jeff Schultz

 

These are not normal times for a football team. The quarterback is entering his third season in the offense and coming off an MVP season. The offensive coordinator is the newbie, which suggests his initial objective is not to coordinate but to blend.

“I really tried to come in with a I’m-going-to-see-how-they-did-it mentality,” Steve Sarkisian, the Falcons’ new offensive coordinator, said Tuesday. “How do they run the football, how do they play-pass, how are the two are married together? How do they utilize their weapons and personnel groupings? And I had a lot of, ‘Whys.’”

This is how intent the Falcons have been on prepping Sarkisian for this season and helping him develop chemistry with quarterback Matt Ryan: He has worn a headset for practices and is calling many of the plays on the spot, a departure from the usual scripted practices of training camp and the preseason.

“It’s intentional,” he said. “It’s been good for me, and it’s been good for (new defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel), too, getting put in different situations. Everybody has the same playbook but different plays get called at different times, depending on the personality of the play-caller.”

Sarkisian and Ryan appear to be a match personality-wise. They’re a better early fit than Ryan was with former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who, while an incredibly talented play-caller, sometimes bordered on obstinate, particularly in his first season.

Sarkisian has a history of seeking input from players. Ryan has a recent history of success in this offense. For those two reasons, expect Ryan to have a bit more latitude than in the past.

When asked if Ryan will have more freedom this season, coach Dan Quinn said, “His freedom will be in the input.” That’s in game-planning, early-game script and just in general for what he feels comfortable calling, based on his experiences of the past two seasons.

At the outset in 2015, the Falcons’ offense was known as Shanahan’s offense. In 2017, it’s closer to Ryan’s offense. It doesn’t mean he’ll be calling plays other than in the no-huddle offense, nor does it mean his empowerment is without reasonable limit.

Sarkisian: “If Matt came in and said he met with Paul Johnson and wanted to run the triple option, I’d probably say, ‘Not a great idea.’ Somewhere in there a line gets drawn. But our job as coaches is to put players in the best position to be successful.”

Sarkisian is a proven offensive coach. He excelled at USC and Washington and with the Oakland Raiders and for a short tenure with Alabama. It’s why Nick Saban wanted to keep him and Quinn wanted to steal him. Quinn believed Sark and Ryan would mesh well.

“The quarterback has to feel comfortable with what we’re doing,” Sarkisian said. “It’d be wrong for me to just say, ‘This is what we’re running, like it or not.’ I like the interaction, and I like us to have enough of a relationship for him to say, ‘You know what, Sark? I don’t like this.’ I’d much rather him tell me that on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday than have it go wrong on Sunday and him saying, ‘I didn’t like that play anyway.’

“These guys have played a lot of football. I would be remiss not to use the expertise that they have.”

In the Falcons’ scheme, Ryan generally has two options for every play. Second options at the line of scrimmage are called “cans.” They hinge on Ryan’s presnap read of the defense. Audibles are limited by the personnel groupings.

“We spend a lot of time in our system on the ‘cans,’ so we can get the premier look for a play,” Quinn said.

When comparing his relationship with Sarkisian to Shanahan, Ryan said he “probably had more input than people would’ve thought” the past two years under Shanahan.

But, “You come a long way. The more you work with somebody, the more trusting you become. Obviously our success was a lot better in the second year so everybody thinks (communication) was a lot better.”

But it was, right?

“Sure, it was smoother.”

Ryan and Sarkisian have game-planned only once, for the third exhibition against Arizona. But he likes the early feel he’s getting from his new coordinator.

“Everybody has a little bit different personality as a coordinator,” he said. “We’ve always had a lot of freedom in terms of being able to ‘can’ out of certain plays.”

He said the preseason has been different with Sarkisian “being on the headset the entire time. But it’s my third year and it’s his first. So the more you can become familiar with it the more it becomes second nature.”

Sarkisian said he will call plays from the field, not the press box. He prefers the interactions and It’s easier for him to discuss things with Ryan between series.

What happens if he sends in a play that Ryan doesn’t like?

“There shouldn’t be a play in a game plan that he absolutely hates,” Sarkisian said. “That’s what the dialogue should be about all week. He should almost be able to anticipate scenarios and what the call’s going to be, rather than, ‘What the heck is this?'”

The Falcons are seeking a seamless transition.

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13 minutes ago, Xfactor said:

" Ryan and Sarkisian have game-planned only once, for the third exhibition against Arizona. But he likes the early feel he’s getting from his new coordinator. "

Then Sark stay out of this and let Ryan call the plays B)

I know people believe otherwise but Peyton and Rodgers both said QBs don't call their own plays, other than no-huddle. 

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22 minutes ago, Xfactor said:

" Ryan and Sarkisian have game-planned only once, for the third exhibition against Arizona. But he likes the early feel he’s getting from his new coordinator. "

Then Sark stay out of this and let Ryan call the plays B)

I was enjoying this article until that line, lol.

We're gonna be ok. Ryan is now supremely comfortable in this offense and has a coordinator who listens to him and values his input. Even if we're not as prolific as last year (which we won't be ... historic offenses get the moniker "historic" for a reason), we're going to score. A lot. And we have an improved defense to help carry the load.

 

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There may be some offensive growing pains. I really hope the defense is the catalyst for making many good things happen this season, taking pressure off the O. It may very well take Sark and the offense a few games to get the momentum back, but I do believe it will work out just fine. 

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37 minutes ago, Xfactor said:

" Ryan and Sarkisian have game-planned only once, for the third exhibition against Arizona. But he likes the early feel he’s getting from his new coordinator. "

Then Sark stay out of this and let Ryan call the plays B)

Yikes.  Didn't like reading that.  Im sure we will be fine and what better way to get this offense going than to open with the Bears.

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The first 2 paragraphs made me a bit worried, I read the rest of the article and my worries subsided a decent amount.  I still don't really like the idea of an OC (or any coach) ever conceding to a player though.  I want there to be a solid plan and a vision.  Not to say that he should be as stubborn as Kyle, but your QB should bump heads with the OC from time to time.  It shows how invested they are in the gameplan and how passionate they are about winning.

Peyton Manning ran his offenses, and even though he is considered to be a NFL Legend, he doesn't come close to Brady's level of success when surrounded by good/great coaching staffs.  When Matt dropped the "nice guy" routine and really started to challenge Kyle, our offense became historic.

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6 minutes ago, falconidae said:

It's not, if so, Ryan would have run the ball late in the last game. What happened last year is everybody on the field was better at the offense. And KS knew his personnel better.

It maybe not completely but It definitely appeared as if last years coordinator weakened and allowed Matt to have more say in what was called. 

Edited by Ezekiel 25:17
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"Ryan and Sarkisian have game-planned only once, for the third exhibition against Arizona."

That is not what the TATF narrative has been. "Arizona gameplanned but we didn't" was an explanation used by more than one person. 

Overall, sounds like Sark will be a good fit. If the OL can hold up, Ryan will be fine, he always has done well when the OL isn't a sieve.

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I wouldn't make too much out of that "3rd preseason game-planning" comment.  There's gameplanning and then there's 3rd preseason game gameplanning, which has always been a bit overblown.

Whereas the first two preseason games you're working from a handful of passes and runs, well now you'll take the time to put together a little bit more of a tailored script to carry you through the half, but you're still working from a limited menu of plays. 

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Just now, PeytonMannings Forehead said:

I wouldn't make too much out of that "3rd preseason game-planning" comment.  There's gameplanning and then there's 3rd preseason game gameplanning, which has always been a bit overblown.

Whereas the first two preseason games you're working from a handful of passes and runs, well now you'll take the time to put together a little bit more of a tailored script to carry you through the half, but you're still working from a limited menu of plays. 

Which is why there were no plays to Hooper. Unnecessary long balls to Julio and Taylor etc.

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17 minutes ago, Kaptain Krazy said:

"Ryan and Sarkisian have game-planned only once, for the third exhibition against Arizona."

That is not what the TATF narrative has been. "Arizona gameplanned but we didn't" was an explanation used by more than one person. 

Overall, sounds like Sark will be a good fit. If the OL can hold up, Ryan will be fine, he always has done well when the OL isn't a sieve.

That wasn't a narrative by TATF....that is literally what DQ said. 

Either Schultz is off his rocker or Matt and Sarkisian had a different plan than what DQ had. 

Or maybe there are different definitions and ideas of what gameplanning is and mean. 

 

Edit: I see PeytonManningsForehead is eluding to my last sentence about different meanings and ideas of gameplanning. 

Edited by ATLFalcons11
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9 minutes ago, SpongeDad said:

Honestly, I haven't been too thrilled with the play calling all preseason.

It's just the unpredictability of Shanahan we will miss. The lack of situational play calling. And that's a double edged sword. It what made us unstoppable, and it's also what cost us the Super Bowl.

I've probably seen two-dozed Falcon OCs over the years. I could almost always guess a basic play call and be right more often than not. With some (Mularkey), I could tell simply by the formation. Shanahan was the first Falcon OC ever that I would guess wrong more than 50% of the time. With Shanny, I'd be right maybe once in four plays. He was incredibly hard to decipher.

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