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5Q: Ice-Breaker


Matt Ryan had a 2011 to remember. In his four years with the Falcons, the signal-caller has stamped his name in the organization's record books several times, and he passed perhaps the biggest of those records last season by setting a new mark for passing yards in a season. Ryan has had an offseason thus far filled with visiting family and catch up with people he doesn't get to see during the season, but the quarterback is eager to get back to work, especially with a new offensive system to learn.

Jay Adams: The playoff loss to the Giants is firmly in the rearview mirror as we look toward 2012, but is there anything you've been able to take from that loss and learn from?

Matt Ryan: I think it's a lot of the same as before with some of our playoff losses. The opportunity, they don't present themselves all that often and you have to take advantage of those opportunities. Now, I've seen twice that two teams we played beat us, playing their best football in January that have gone on to win Super Bowls. It's hard to get there, for sure. But you need to be playing your very best football in January and we haven't done that. I think that's, for me, the most motivating thing heading into next season.

JA: Since the end of the season, there have been many changes on the coaching staff, namely the addition of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. How does it affect you when you have to learn a brand new system?

MR: I think it's exciting, really on two fronts. I'm very happy for Mike Mularkey. He deserves his opportunity and I think it's a great thing for himself and his family, and I know he had a great working relationship with (former Falcons quarterback coach) Bob Bratkowski, too, who I have a ton of respect for and enjoyed working with last season, so I think both of those guys will do a great job in Jacksonville. With that said, I'm excited about working with Dirk. I met with him a little bit in the interview process and just was excited about some of the things I think he'll bring to the table. He's got some really good visions for us schematically. I think he can help us in a number of different areas. He's got some background in no-huddle offense, which I think is exciting to work with that and have some different thoughts on how we're going to execute in that area. Then, I'm excited to work with (new Falcons quarterbacks coach) Glenn Thomas, too. Glenn's been around the entire time I've been here. In all honesty, he's been in every meeting I've been in since I've been a Falcon, and I think he's worked tremendously hard and is certainly deserving of the promotion. I think he'll bring a lot of energy and a lot of dedication to the table.

JA: Speaking of Koetter, he's a coach with a history of relying on vertical passing, and he says he's big on the screen game. What do you think of what you've heard of his system so far?

MR: I'm excited about it. I think you always learn different things from different coaches and I think all great competitors are always eager to learn more. I view it as that opportunity to learn more and try and add to my knowledge about the game and, ultimately, my productivity when I get on the field. I think he's got some really good ideas and understands the personnel we have here, and certainly after free agency and the Draft, we'll have a better idea of what we're going to look like next year, but I'm excited about it. You mentioned the screen game and the vertical passing stuff, I think there's some things we've done well in that category, but certainly those are two areas I think we can be better and his expertise in that area I think will help.

JA: You mentioned Glenn Thomas. A lot of people may not know that, like you said, he has been with you since you set foot in Flowery Branch. With him being your third QB coach in three years, how far will that familiarity go between you two?

MR: I think it'll be huge. Like I said, Glenn's been in every meeting I've been in for four years, so I don't really view it as that much of a change from our meetings standpoint. Our relationship is already established. I think we've got a very good relationship. Glenn's been a big help for me behind the scenes for the past four years and I'm really excited about it. One of the things I'm most excited about, he's definitely younger than Chris Redman, so if Chris is back it'll be pretty funny to see how that dynamic works in there. But his youth, I think, is a great thing. He's got a lot of energy and is very detailed and very good at what he does and I think he's going to do a great job.

JA: The Combine starts this week in Indianapolis. Free agency starts in a few weeks. After that, we're on to the Draft. How much do you pay attention to what happens around the league and what the Falcons do during these periods?

MR: Not so much the Combine. Just because coverage is so extensive, you'll hear about what certain guys do, but most of the Combine is about medical reports and those kinds of things and seeing how guys bodies are. That's the part that doesn't get a whole lot of play, but when you've been to the Combine, you kind of understand that that's mostly what it's about. But free agency and the Draft is huge. As soon as we start to make some moves and sign some guys back or bring some guys in, I think it's important to start building a relationship and getting to know those guys and just offering any help that you can be — transitioning sometimes to a new city or if it's guys you're bringing back, just congratulating them. Once you get to the Draft, I follow it probably just as much as anybody, any Falcons fan, just because I'm excited to see who we're going to bring in. Last year was awesome bringing in Julio (Jones). I think he did a great job and I'm sure Thomas (Dimitroff) and his staff will continue to do good things and bring in some personnel.

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