In his NFL career, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has known much regular season success and only one offensive coordinator.
And how Ryan responds to new Falcons play-caller Dirk Koetter will likely determine whether he’s able to finally break through with his first NFL playoff win.
Koetter’s making some fundamental changes to the Falcons offense Mike Mularkey installed. There’s more of an emphasis on getting the ball downfield, which will require more arm strength than Ryan’s displayed previously. His arm’s good-not-great, but head coach Mike Smith said he’s seen a physical difference so far.
“Matt, I think, has really progressed,” Smith told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think you can see it physically that he’s bigger. I think his arm strength is much-improved from the first four years.”
But more than anything physical, Ryan’s going to have to get used to his first significant philosophical change. Smith pointed out that “the relationship between the coordinator and the quarterback is one that probably needs to be the strongest one on the football team,” and the two seem to be working well so far.
“Matt will look you in the eye and tell you how he sees it …,” Koetter said. “By the same token, I can tell him what I think, what I see and what the coaching staff sees. He takes coaching well, but he also gives good feedback.”
Ledbetter noted that during minicamp, the Falcons offense “was on fire.”
Of course, things will become more complicated when they move past 7-on-7s, and the Falcons questionable offensive line has to do its part.
But getting Ryan comfortable with his first major change is a big step, one the Falcons hope enable them to take a bigger one.