This offseason may have been abnormal considering NFL teams were unable to practice regularly and bond with new teammates but Matt Ryan says that’s no excuse.
The Falcons starting quarterback spoke with the rookies via zoom giving them some enlightenment.
“We’ve all sat in your seat before as rookies and coming into a new situation”, Ryan said. “Obviously this year is different for sure, a little bit more difficult. But, I think there’s an expectation from us as veteran players that you’re pulling weight wherever you’re at and you’re doing the work that you need to do to get yourselves ready to go when this all kicks off in July.”
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This Offseason is Similar to 2011
Ryan compared this season to the past, the “NFL lockout” back 2011. Owners and players couldn’t come to a collective bargaining agreement so the owners locked their doors from March 12 to July 25.
Players were forced to come up with their own practices.
“I think one of the benefits for me going into year 13 is that I’ve had all kinds of different offseasons,” Ryan said. “This one reminds me a lot of heading into 2011 season when we were locked out. Q can recall those times too.”
Since there were several travel restrictions, social distancing, and quarantine, this offseason was a little bit different but Ryan says that shouldn’t be an excuse.
“We had a rookie on our team that year too, Julio Jones coming into the league”, Ryan told the rookies. “No offseason, no TA’s, no nothing. Training camps started later and he went out and set the league on fire. So, there are no excuses, there’s no rule two because of this situation. You guys have everything you need to get yourselves ready to go.”
Ryan Built an Offseason Program
Veterans such as Julio, Ryan, and Alex Mack were tasked with coming up an offseason program for their designated positions.
For Ryan, his main goal was to ‘keep it as normal as possible’ so it was like the team was practicing at Flowery Branch, he told Sports Illustrated.
The first two weeks of the offseason are designated to “dead ball” where its a bunch of classroom work. That was led by the coaches via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Cisco Webex. The rest of the seven weeks are for quarterbacks and skill players to get their work in on the field.
Ryan schedule five weeks in Georgia, three in California, and a final week back in Atlanta. Practices were three days a week with 90-15 minute sessions. Of course, the practices weren’t the normal 11-on-11 but Ryan believed it was better off that way while only practicing with three guys at a time.
Quarantine Was in Falcons Favor
Ryan actually thinks this pandemic will be in Falcons favor coming into the 2020 season.
Instead of running through quick plays and practices, Ryan was able to slow things down with the rookies and new guys when they were able to get together. This also meant he had more time to bond with them.
But now, heading into training camp its a much faster pace atmosphere. Ryan has some advice.
“I would encourage you to reach out to the guys in your position group to find out what you need to do to get yourselves ready for training camp, what you need to do in terms of creating a routine,” Ryan suggested to the young guys.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to do my part, I’m going to have my stuff ready to go for whenever we get started.”