Friday, August 22, 2014
Eagles' offense makes Matt Ryan curious
By Vaughn McClure
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan isn't ashamed to admit his curiosity regarding other offenses around the league.
Naturally, Ryan studies all of the elite quarterbacks and what makes them successful. But at least one offense, as a whole, caught his eye from last season. It was the up-tempo, hybrid West Coast style coach Chip Kelly brought to Philadelphia that allowed the Eagles to finish first in the league in passing yards per play, second in total offense and fourth in scoring offense. The same offense was on display during the Eagles' 31-21 preseason win Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"In the past, I've watched a lot of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers -- I mean, you have to watch them," Ryan said. "But this past year, it wasn't even so much quarterbacks. It was just looking at some different offenses and taking a look at what Philadelphia did. Nick Foles had such a good year last year. But taking a look at some of [Philadelphia's] scheme and how some of their stuff is used, they were really, really good on offense last year.
"And obviously, you look at what Denver did on offense last year and you watch Peyton again and the year he had. You have to take a look at what some other people are doing and also see how that might fit in with the scheme that we have and the guys that we have."
Of course, Ryan has complete faith in offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's sharp offensive mind. But no doubt it would be fun to see the Falcons incorporate some of those elements used in the Eagles' offense. That quick pace, with an average of 24 seconds between plays last season, wears defenses down and keeps them from making the proper personnel adjustments.
It helps when Philadelphia boasts one of the league's top running backs in LeSean McCoy, along with a solid offense line anchored by Jason Peters.
The Falcons don't have a running back of McCoy's caliber just yet, and the offense line doesn't compare to what Philadelphia has right now. But having receivers capable of making plays after the catch also is a key element for the Eagles, and the Falcons certainly have that in playmakers Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Regardless of the style or tempo the Falcons utilize this season, it will mean nothing if they can't produce in the red zone.
"It’s about scoring touchdowns," Ryan said. "When we get down there, we’ve got a goal of being above 55 percent scoring touchdowns every time that we get into the red area. That’s an area where we weren’t as good as we’ve been in the past last year.
"If we want to be the team that we want to be, we have to get back to a high level of scoring touchdowns in the red zone. That’s the main emphasis: You’ve got to be consistent up front, you’ve got to be consistent on the outside and you’ve got to make the plays when they present themselves."