This week, the Atlanta Falcons are preparing for a game! Albeit, Friday’s preseason matchup against the New York Jets will serve as a barometer on this offense’s progress in the red zone.
Last season, the Falcons scored touchdowns 49.18% of the time the offense was inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. By comparison, Atlanta scored touchdowns 64.56% of the time in the 2016 season. That year, the Falcons ended up in the Super Bowl.
Last season’s struggles were not lost on Quarterback Matt Ryan’s mind this Monday.
“I think there’s definitely a point of emphasis for us to continue to get good work in the red area,” Ryan said Monday after practice. “To try to be more productive, to score more touchdowns than we did last year. I think there’s an urgency from the players of getting the extra work that we need to try to be more productive in that. We always talk about we get what we emphasize. As an organization that’s been something that we’ve emphasized, and we’ll expect to see better results.”
Earlier in the week, Austin Hooper discussed with 92.9 The Game regarding putting in more than 500 hours of work with Ryan during this offseason. That work included catching passes at Atlanta-area high schools if Hooper and Ryan did not feel like traveling to Flowery Branch, catching passes in the rain, cold and searing heat during the summer. Ryan lauded Hooper’s [and the receiving corps] enthusiasm regarding attention to detail.
“Yeah to me it’s consistency. It’s every day going out there and working on different looks that we might get, how we want to treat those certain looks, where the ball positioning is going to be, all of those different things, the landmarks on the field,” Ryan continued. “Just doesn’t happen overnight and that’s the best part of this time of the year is that you have that narrow focus each day of what you want to accomplish, of what you want to focus on without the game that you have to game plan for.
“So we’re trying to get the fundamentals just right. Basics down just right so as they come up throughout the year, we’re ready to go. Not only Calvin (Ridley), Julio (Jones), Mo (Mohamed Sanu), Austin Hooper, all of our guys – (Justin) Hardy, Marvin (Hall). Every day those guys are getting work in those types of situations and I think it’s going to be paying off for us.”