NFL teams didn’t follow the usual offseason schedule this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that meant it was up to players to organize their own workouts.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan did that in Atlanta and California while drawing on his experience going through the 2011 offseason when a lockout created a similar set of challenges when it came to preparing for a season. The circumstances of the pandemic meant that groups were smaller than they were that time, but Ryan said that turned out to be a “really effective” way to get work done.
Ryan also noted some positives to working outside the structured schedule that NFL teams are required to follow under normal conditions.
“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, via Albert Breer of SI.com. “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.”
Ryan also noted that working on their own schedule allowed for more time to develop relationships with new teammates like tight end Hayden Hurst as they try to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.