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Hey @JayOzOne! Hope you don't mind, but I've copied and pasted the Falcons related part of the article here for those who can't (or won't) click the link. It's too good to not share. 

Thanks for finding it and sharing it!

 

We’ve been here before, in certain ways, and some of the league’s current starters were around for that, too. Nine years ago, the lockout created a spot like this one for the league’s quarterbacks, then tasked with becoming quasi-coaches—and among the 32 starters from that season, eight remain starters now, with each carrying a lesson or two he took from the experience.

“There are a lot of similarities,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said late Tuesday afternoon. “I think the No. 1 thing, it’s on the players. And it’s on me to make sure I’m creating access for the guys to get the work done that they needed to get done. And that was the same in the lockout. We had groups of guys that got together in that lockout year. We were able to put on player-led practices.

“The difference this year, with COVID, is limits on the number of players that can get together, trying to practice social distancing, and making sure that everybody’s staying safe. I think that part’s been different. The groups of guys that have gotten together for us, as a team, have been smaller than they were that lockout year, but the work has been really effective.”

t’s worth listening to Ryan. In 2011, that work, going into his fourth NFL season, led to a 10–6 campaign for Atlanta, during which the Falcons were able to get a lot out of the guys around the quarterback, both new (Julio Jones posted a 959-yard, eight-touchdown rookie year) and old (29-year-old RB Michael Turner rushed for 1,340 yards and 11 TDs).

And yet, that season also saw the Bengals make the playoffs behind rookie quarterback Andy Dalton and the Broncos get there with Tim Tebow not wresting the starting job from incumbent Kyle Orton until October.

Which tells you that, clearly, there are different ways for teams to go about all this. So this week in the column, we’ll dive into what two guys heading into very big years in their respective careers—one still at the beginning of his, with Ryan closer to the end—have done.

The first difference Ryan felt in working through this offseason was the obvious one, one that we’ve all had to reach a comfort level with at some point over the last three months.

“I think at the beginning, for the first couple days, it was weird wearing masks on the field while I was throwing,” Ryan said. “It was the first time I’ve thrown in a mask, that’s for sure.”

So even with the experience he did have—Ryan ran a spring program for the guys in 2011 at Buford High School, near the Falcons facility in Flowery Branch—there was plenty he had to learn as the reality of the situation sunk in at the end of March.

Part of it would be limits on the numbers. Part of it would be getting to the point where his teammates could travel to meet him. Part of it was simply the comfort level one guy would have with the next guy as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in America.

Ryan’s way of combating all that was fairly simple. His goal in his own training was to “keep it as normal as possible,” and his message to his teammates was the same. As such, he wanted the offseason program he was creating for himself and his teammates to mirror as much of what would usually go down in Flowery Branch in the spring as possible.

The NFL allows for a nine-week offseason program for teams, with the first two weeks being designated as “dead ball.” That leaves seven weeks for quarterbacks and skill players to throw and catch. Via Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex, the guys have still gotten their classroom work with coaches (that’s another difference from 2011), which has left quarterbacks to make up for the field work.

And has Ryan ever worked to do that. He has engaged his teammates for the last nine weeks (that prescribed length isn’t an accident)—the first five in Georgia, followed by three in California, with the final week having just wrapped up outside Atlanta. They’d go three days per week, with sessions lasting between 90 and 105 minutes, and the work was detailed, deliberate and thorough.

So I asked Ryan whether what the Falcons have accomplished matches what they’d normally do, and he said it’s close. In some ways, it’s still lacking: There wasn’t the 11-on-11 work they’d normally get during OTAs and minicamp, and there weren’t coaches on hand. But in others, Ryan actually believes he and his teammates may be better off, which speaks to the chance all quarterbacks have had this offseason to put their teams ahead of everyone else. Here are a few of those ...

Targeted sessions. At first, the Falcons were meeting in smaller groups to follow guidelines. But even as things opened up in Georgia, Ryan limited the size of the groups he worked with to four or fewer teammates at a time. The work, as he saw it, was better that way. He could tailor one day to more experienced teammates, and another to less experienced guys. And it allowed players flexibility in their own schedules, so Ryan could get them to come when it was most convenient for them.

“To be able to take our time, and work on the things we need to work on together, there’s a lot of time in an offseason program where the amount of time you’re allowed in the building and on the field is structured through the CBA,” Ryan said. “For us, getting together on our own, outside of that environment, allows us to work at the pace that we need to work at. And when you’re working with younger guys, sometimes you have to go a little bit slower, be able to discuss things like that, and talk things through.

“That part of it has really been beneficial, and I think we’re going to be better for it.”

Relationship building with new guys. Ryan mentioned one edge the Falcons have is continuity, and there’s no doubt that having Jones and Calvin Ridley under these conditions is a big plus. But not everyone is a holdover, and so Ryan's getting reps with the new guys is valuable on a number of fronts—allowing for the quarterback to learn those players, and for those players to work their way into the mix of the offense.

“For a guy like [free agent tight end] Hayden Hurst coming in, this is a huge advantage in terms of the amount of time I get to spend with him individually,” Ryan said. “I think that part of it can be really positive for us to get to know each other on a personal level, but also to get that sense of timing, that feel that comes along with being with somebody a lot.”

Relationship-building with the incumbents. This goes back to the very specific work Ryan might want with a certain player, which may be tougher to accomplish with a whole team to worry about in an OTA or minicamp setting. On his own, the quarterback raised how he and Ridley have worked on spacing over the last couple of months. “We’ve talked about what spots on the field he needs to save me space on certain routes,” Ryan said.

In layman’s terms, Ryan’s showing Ridley what he’s seeing on certain plays, and how working on having awareness of what’s around him could add up to more chances to make plays.

“If you’re getting to the hashes on an in-cut before I’m ready to deliver the ball, when we have certain play-pass actions off it, you’re eliminating your chances of getting the ball,” Ryan said. “You’re also eliminating your chance of getting run after the catch, all those little things that turn a completion into an explosive completion, or a touchdown. We’ve had a lot of chances to talk about the little nuances that are gonna make us better.”

And as such, Ryan sees big things coming for the 2018 first-rounder.

“That’s the development you can get with a guy now going into Year 3,” Ryan said. “But you really can only get there if you have this extended amount of time, and this one-on-one venue to work at. He’s a guy I think could explode going into a year like this. He’s in phenomenal shape, he’s been running great and I think his grasp of the offense, and his mastery of our system is so much further along than it was last year.”

Individual improvement. Ryan did ask one big favor of his teammates this offseason. He wanted to go out to Orange County to get work in with his throwing coach, Adam Dedeaux of 3DQB, for a few weeks in May. So he plainly asked the group, Boys, what do you think about making the trip out to the West Coast? Do guys feel comfortable traveling right now?

Enough of them were, so after five weeks of work in Georgia, the next three were moved out to Golden West College in Huntington Beach, Calif., which was also convenient for Jones, who makes his offseason home in L.A. And thanks to his teammates being flexible, Ryan was able to get some very specific mechanics work in that he probably wouldn’t have been able to do as many drills on during a normal offseason.

“It’s a small thing, but for crossing routes going right to left, when we have play-action pass footwork with it, trying to get my hips and my shoulders in front of these crossing routes, to make sure they’re in front of my chest,” Ryan said. “It’s something that when you’re playing with pass rush or you’re out at practice, there’s a script of a number of different things you’re working on, you can’t be as selfish for what you need to work on individually.

“But when you’re doing it this way, you can take all the time you need to, you can devote a day a week to working just specifically on that.”

Atlanta coach Dan Quinn gave his players an assignment this offseason to work on “One Main Thing.” Small as it may seem, this was Ryan’s. And Ryan said, given the amount of reps he’s gotten, when it comes to positioning his shoulders and hips off play-action, on right-to-left crossing routes, he’s “a lot better.”

Leadership benefits. Because there aren’t coaches on the field, naturally, Ryan’s had to do more to lead. But he isn’t the only one who’s taken the bull by the horns. And others stepping forward, as Ryan sees it, has to be a good thing for the team.

The best example of that? It’s probably none other than Julio Jones.

“He’s been amazing,” Ryan said. “He’s an unbelievable teacher and just such an unselfish teammate. He’s really good for those guys in terms of showing them what it looks like to work and then helping them with his experience. I mean, I can tell receivers where I want them to be and when I want them to be there, but I can’t tell them how to do it. I don’t have that experience. And they’ll laugh at me when I try and show them.

“So to have him around is super valuable. He’s got so much experience, so much time on task. And he even knows, ‘Hey, this is how Matt likes to throw this one, this is why you need to make sure you’re getting full depth on this route.’ His experience is just invaluable.”

***Skipped the Bills and Josh Allen stuff***

 

Likewise, Ryan thinks he and the Falcons are positioned well coming out of the spring.

As he has annually, the 13th-year vet plans to bring his teammates back in for two more weeks of work before camp, similar to what they’ve done the last nine weeks. And heading into that point in the calendar, he sees the group as on schedule, even in a year in which very few things have been. He also knows what his division looks like with Drew Brees and Tom Brady in it (“It’s gonna be a grind, for sure, both those guys are studs”), and understands what a big year it is for the franchise, coming off two years without reaching the playoffs.

“No doubt, we wanna get back there, man,” Ryan said. “We want to get back in the mix. That’s what you work so hard for, to give yourself that late-season opportunity. And so I feel it, I feel like the other guys feel it. And we’ve certainly been working that way.”

Time will tell whether Atlanta or Buffalo get there. But if either do, I don’t think it’ll be hard to guess one thing all those guys will point back to.

The message will sound a lot like what they’re saying right now.

 

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It is quite a pleasure to have Ryan as our QB.  He has been in the league for a while now and he is still dissecting his game and working to improve himself.  His leadership skills are phenomenal, especially the way he imparts ownership to all of his teammates.  Everyone is invested.

Now, I'd like to see some reports about what the OL is doing to prepare.  To be honest, I don't worry about Ryan and his receivers.  I worry about our OL and how well they will "gell".  Has anyone heard about what Mack and Matthews are doing with the OL?

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17 hours ago, ATLSlobberKnockers said:

10 bucks says Ryan becomes a media darling this year.

His polite, clean-cut, PC, boring personality which was probably the biggest reason he was so often ignored (outside of playing for Atlanta) are now his biggest assets in the current climate. 

Edited by Dr Long Shot
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3 hours ago, Dr Long Shot said:

His polite, clean-cut, PC, boring personality which was probably the biggest reason he was so often ignored (outside of playing for Atlanta) are now his biggest assets in the current climate. 

No doubt for the team and fans. But that won't get media ratings. Ryan may be boring but I like how he took initiative to raise money and make real difference. We need few folks who want to do the work. 

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On 6/15/2020 at 4:19 PM, HASHBROWN3 said:

Most underrated QB around... 

I'll say this unequivocally and would have said it before reading this excellent article on Matt Ryan: If the Falcons win a Super Bowl anytime in the near future, Matt Ryan will be one of the main reasons it was possible.

Without him, I have absolutely no doubt the traditional Atlanta Falcon 7-Alarm Dumpster Fire would have been our reality instead of the great seasons and SB berth we got to enjoy. The ignorance of the people who bash Matt Ryan is really beyond comprehension. 

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2 hours ago, PokerSteve said:

I'll say this unequivocally and would have said it before reading this excellent article on Matt Ryan: If the Falcons win a Super Bowl anytime in the near future, Matt Ryan will be one of the main reasons it was possible.

Without him, I have absolutely no doubt the traditional Atlanta Falcon 7-Alarm Dumpster Fire would have been our reality instead of the great seasons and SB berth we got to enjoy. The ignorance of the people who bash Matt Ryan is really beyond comprehension. 

He's special. How many of us remember that until he arrived, the franchise never had back-to-back winning seasons? That was the most humiliating record of futility that I can imagine. Matt ran off five straight winning seasons. He's definitely on Mount Rushmore along with Julio, which presents huge arguments for the other two faces.

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3 hours ago, PokerSteve said:

I'll say this unequivocally and would have said it before reading this excellent article on Matt Ryan: If the Falcons win a Super Bowl anytime in the near future, Matt Ryan will be one of the main reasons it was possible.

Without him, I have absolutely no doubt the traditional Atlanta Falcon 7-Alarm Dumpster Fire would have been our reality instead of the great seasons and SB berth we got to enjoy. The ignorance of the people who bash Matt Ryan is really beyond comprehension. 

LOL @ 7 alarm dumpster fire :lol:

I cannot explain the misguided hate either tbh with you poker.

He deserves a SB championship, but like some great ones before him, it takes a lot of things to come together at once.
Like 70 always says, we all need some rest!

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what a pleasure to read. Ryan is literally a coach for the offense. He created an off-season program and teaches classes virtually, runs the practices and explains to the WRs how to run their routes. Plus then Julio shows them the technique...We truly are lucky. Should be a better season than last!

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On 6/15/2020 at 2:45 PM, Ians0280 said:

I just read another article on this.(not posted).people can say whatever they like about ryan but he gives everything he has for this franchise.100%.

without a doubt you can never ? his work ethic and being a team guy but man I just think his best days are gone. I hope I am wrong

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