Falcons fans have reason to be optimistic about the 2021 offense hitting the ground running


Normally, first-year offensive coordinators and quarterbacks go through growing pains that virtually everyone experiences. Those struggles can be attributed to the sheer knowledge of the playbook, communication lapses, or fundamental differences in understanding one another. Matt Ryan played averagely in 2015 with Kyle Shanahan in their first year as a coordinator/quarterback duo, and we all know the step the two took together in 2016. Arthur Smith — even though he runs a similar system — and Ryan could be in for a comparably slow start, or could they? Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated went into this exact topic with Ryan, and the conclusions drawn should have fans rather optimistic.

“The biggest thing was spending the last three months trying to learn the system, as much as I could,” Ryan said. “Trying to get ahead of it, so when we get to this time of year, and we’re having guys on the field and we’re able to spend time together, I could be speaking the language that coaches will want me to speak. I think that’s probably the thing that’s most different, just how much time I’ve spent on that.

The 36-year-old quarterback has wasted no time learning the new system — at least what he’s been able to. There seems to be a clock going off in the veteran’s head about just how much time he has left. Effort and production can be two different things, but Ryan hasn’t changed his offseason routine entirely.

“When you’re in the same system and you’re going through it with the same staff, you get quite a bit more of a break to recharge. That’s really how it’s been spent, getting on top of the playbook, making sure my body is in a really good space, which is what I’d be doing this time of the year anyhow. But just more time spent on learning the system.”

There is palpable optimism in the piece from Breer and Ryan as the two continued their conversation. There are no secrets that the skeleton of Smith’s offense mirrors that of Shanahan’s, and the Falcons’ new head coach recognizes such, using it to his advantage. The two have already begun using past examples for future teaching as Ryan eludes to Smith using his old cutups to teach his own concepts and nuances.

“One-hundred percent. One-hundred percent,” Ryan said. “He already talks in that manner of, Hey, we’re installing this, we used to teach off your cutups from back then there, but we’re going to teach off this that we used the last two years, but really it’s that same thing. And you’re like, O.K., alright, cool, perfect, we can move on to the next one, I know that one. There’s definitely some of that going on.”

In 2015, Ryan was further behind in relation to learning the two offenses for the first time, which several things are contributing to. The aging quarterback realizes his window of winning is closing fast, thus giving him more urgency to learn the system quickly. Arthur Smith uses an efficient way of teaching his quarterback the subtle differences between Ryan’s past offenses and his own. And finally, Ryan has previous knowledge of a similar scheme, so he’s already a step ahead. I will be the first to say I still think this offense could start slow, but this piece by Breer should spark great optimism across Rise Up nation.

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