Fri, 10 Jul 2020

Matt Ryan: 'Fast start' will be key to success for Falcons

Atlanta Falcons
30 May 2020, 18:57 GMT+10

When asked what will be the key to winning the NFC South and returning to the postseason in 2020, it didn't take Matt Ryan long to answer.

In Ryan's eyes, it comes down to two things: A fast start and scoring more points on offense.

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"It's going to be important for us to get off to a fast start," Ryan said on ESPN. "[To] make sure that at the beginning of the year we're right in the mix so that when we get those division games late in the year, we've got a chance to separate or do what we need to do."

The Falcons slow start in the 2019 season crippled them in many ways as they were 1-7 heading into their bye in Week 9.

While the team was able to make drastic improvement in the final eight games to finish the season 6-2, they ended the year with a 7-9 record and missed the postseason for the second consecutive year.

The NFC South has become one of the toughest divisions in football with the addition of Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Teddy Bridgewater to the Carolina Panthers. Between Drew Brees, Brady, Bridgewater and Ryan, the quarterback play is elite.

Ryan acknowledged the addition of Brady in the NFC South doesn't make the Falcons' quest for the division title "any easier" but is looking forward to the challenge.

One of the bright spots of Atlanta's 2019 season was the production of Ryan and the Falcons' passing attack. The unit finished No. 3 in the NFL in passing yards per game.

With the rest of the division adding talent all over the field, Ryan believes the Falcons' offense will need to be better in the upcoming season to keep pace.

And that means scoring more points.

The Falcons finished No. 13 in scoring offense averaging 23.8 points per game.

"In terms of what we need to do offensively, we're obviously going to have to score some points," Ryan said. "There's some great offenses in our division. We've got to focus on that, going out week in and week out and get touchdowns when we get in the red area."

In addition to Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, Ryan will have plenty of weapons in tight end Hayden Hurst and running back Todd Gurley to help in this area.

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