In the first two preseason games, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons offense hummed along as if the well-oiled machine from 2016 would coast into the post-Kyle Shanahan era. In the regular-season tune-up this weekend, however, it caught a flat.
In two drives during the first two preseason games Ryan completed 7 of 9 passes (77.8 percent) for 89 yards and a touchdown, leading to scoring marches. Saturday versus the Arizona Cardinals, the reigning NFL MVP tossed a terrible interception -- throwing late over the middle without resetting your feet is asking for tipped balls that get picked -- on his first pass of the game. In three drives versus the Cards' first stringers, Ryan completed 4 of 11 passes (36.4 percent) for 36 yards (3.3 yards per pass) and the INT.
Coach Dan Quinn isn't hitting an alarm bell after three exhibition outings, but was dissatisfied in what he saw from his offense.
"I would say more the disappointment [was] that we didn't execute like we're capable of," Quinn said, via the Atlanta Journal-Sentinel. "Any time you experience that, you're kind of bummed and [upset] at the same time."
Added Quinn: "Intentionally, we tried to take some shots down the field," Quinn said. "I would say it was one that we weren't happy with how it looked at the end. As for a cause for any uproar or any of that, we certainly don't feel that way."
Ryan noted that the Falcons' offense started out of synch and didn't play enough to right the ship after early struggles.
"We just never really got into a rhythm offensively," Ryan said. "That's something we would've liked to have done in that first quarter of work, but we didn't. That'll be something that we need to work on as we have this fourth [exhibition] season game coming up and then getting ready for the regular season."
With the starters unlikely to play in Thursday's final preseason tilt, we'll have to wait until Week 1 in Chicago to see if the struggles from the third preseason game were merely a bump easily smoothed over with more reps or a deeper issue.
With the Falcons, Shanahan was masterful at in-game adjustments and self-scouting between weeks. With Steve Sarkisian taking over coordinator duties, it will be interesting to see whether there is any fall off week-to-week in 2017.