Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 9/13/12
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. As Todd McClure discussed what appears to be the transformation of the Atlanta Falcons offense from plodding to explosive, a smile crept across the grizzled veterans face. In 2010 when the Falcons went 13-3, they led the NFL in drives of 10 plays or longer. They averaged a respectable 25.9 points per game that season, fifth-best in the league, but the offense also had to serve the dual purpose in helping out a middling defense that ranked 16th overall by keeping opposing offenses off the field. If all goes as planned as it went in Sundays 40-24 win over Kansas City new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetters offense may make those long drives a relic of a bygone era and the Falcons might also see some larger numbers on the scoreboard. We definitely have the weapons to have some quick drives, some explosiveness, said McClure, in his 13th season. And I think thats what weve been searching for, but Im sure theres going be some games where you have to have some pound-it drives, where youve got a good quarterback on the other side field that you dont want to keep out there. But if you can score and score quick and get points on the board, thats what you want. On Monday when the Falcons host Denver, they will see one of those good quarterbacks on the other side in Peyton Manning. The last few years Atlanta has struggled against top quarterbacks whether its Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers so if the offensive transformation indeed takes hold, they might find themselves better situated for games such as Mondays. In the opener, quarterback Matt Ryan completed 23-of-31 of his passes for three touchdowns without an interception and ran for another touchdown for a 136.4 rating, the fifth-best of his career. In all, the offense finished with 376 yards and after the first week ranks third in the league in scoring. I think all of our confidence collectively is really high and I think that translates to the way you play, Ryan said, so I think everybody has a lot of confidence right now. Much of that explosiveness came in the form of second-year wide receiver Julio Jones, who had two touchdown receptions by halftime and finished with 108 yards on six receptions. Ryan said he has seen a major improvement in Jones route-running but also in his confidence in being in his second season in the league. Ryan said Jones can be as good as any wide receiver in the league, which would justify the blockbuster trade the Falcons made to move up 21 spots at the 2011 NFL Draft and take Jones sixth overall. Hes just so physically gifted, so capable of making plays at any time, Ryan said. As for Ryan himself, he seems to be taking to new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetters offense as seamlessly as possible. In his first four seasons, his completion percentage was fairly steady, ranging from a low of 58.3 to a high of 62.5. During the preseason, Ryan completed 75 percent of his throws, which proved to be an accurate predictor of the coming season, at least in Week 1, as he completed 74.1 percent against Kansas City. In some ways, the increase might result from more screen passes, which former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkeys scheme almost completely lacked, but the improvement in efficiency ought to help on the whole. Ryan said he hasnt thought about his higher completion percentage and that he just tries to complete every throw. He did not want to go into much detail about how Koetter might have simplified the offense for him a statement made by a few of his teammates instead offering up the following assessment. Dirk has done a great job of trying to let us all play fast, he said. Go out there and know your assignment, be comfortable with your assignment and then adjust to what theyre doing and I think thats helped. So far, so good.
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