New Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone has been around the NFL for quite some time. A coach in the league since 2011, Ragone's time in the pros actually began in 2003 when he was a quarterback for the Houston Texans.
That's a long time to be running in the NFL's inner circles, and Ragone was exiting the league just as players like Matt Ryan were about to take over. Among the people Ragone keeps in touch with is Chris Redman, who served as Ryan's backup in Atlanta from 2008-11.
Now, Ragone arrives in Atlanta prepared to coach the 2016 NFL MVP, and he's heard some very good things about Ryan. But, there's one constant that Ragone says he hears from nearly everyone about Ryan.
"I've been fortunate enough to be around a lot of quarterbacks and a lot of quarterback rooms since 2003," Ragone said. "The one thing that comes out about Matt Ryan is his ability to compete on every down. And you see that, there's a no-quit attitude."
Unfortunately, that no-quit attitude has had to be on prominent display the past three seasons. Despite falling out of contention early on in each of the last three years, Ryan and the Falcons have shown resiliency that has earned the locker room outside praise.
After a three-year down period, however, owner Arthur Blank has hired Arthur Smith to lead the team in a new direction as head coach. Smith, who worked with Ragone in Tennessee from 2011-13, selected the Bears passing game coordinator to be his new offensive coordinator. The two will work closely to get every bit of production out of the Falcons' offense.
While with Chicago, Ragone got an up-close look at the Falcons in 2020. The Bears pulled off a late-game 30-26 victory in Week 3 against the Falcons, but Atlanta's performance on offense left Ragone impressed.
"We played against this team when I was in Chicago this past year," Ragone said. "Chicago, they were fortunate enough to win that game, but you got to see the explosion, the talent on [Atlanta's] offense. When Arthur had the opportunity to run the organization and be chosen to be the head coach, it was a no-brainer for me … to be the offensive coordinator and come here and be a part of this."
Although Ragone has the title of offensive coordinator, Smith, who was offensive coordinator in Tennessee before taking over in Atlanta, will retain the play-calling duties for the Falcons. That's something Ragone says he's comfortable with.
In Chicago, Matt Nagy, another offensive-minded head coach, served as the team's play caller. Therefore, Ragone has experience helping to establish a game plan throughout the week and working with a play-calling head coach on the nuances of what the offense hopes to accomplish. Smith figures to have a role in helping establish that game plan, but Ragone will do his part to make sure everyone is on the same page heading into games.
There's been some speculation around Atlanta as to whether or not future game plans will include Ryan. The Falcons currently hold the No. 4 pick in this year's draft, and a large number of mock drafts thus far have Atlanta selecting its quarterback of the future. Both Smith and new general manager Terry Fontenot have maintained they need to take a thorough look at the roster before making decisions on how to proceed into the future, and Ragone also believes that's how his time can best be spent in the coming weeks and months.
"I just want to make sure, before anything else is said about where we're going with anything, is I truly sit down with the rest of the coaches, and coach Smith, and we truly evaluate and put our eyes on what we have on this roster," Ragone said. "Because, from what I know, it's a pretty special roster, in terms of the offensive side of the ball, and I'm excited to work with them."
Ryan's current salary and cap hit would conceivably make it difficult for the Falcons to move him and extremely unlikely they would cut him. Therefore, the franchise's winningest quarterback seems likely to be back for the 2021 season. A former quarterback in this league, and a quarterback coach for much of his career, Ragone says he's excited to work with Ryan.
Throughout his career, Ragone has worked with quarterbacks at all stages of their careers. Whether it be a player at the end – such as Jay Cutler – or a player at the beginning – such as Mitchell Trubisky – there isn't much Ragone hasn't seen. Ryan is the most accomplished quarterback of the group Ragone has coached, however, but he is still hoping to get the most out of him.
Notable quarterbacks Ragone has worked with
|Mitchell Trubisky||Chicago Bears||2017-20|
|Nick Foles||Chicago Bears||2020|
|Jay Cutler||Chicago Bears||2016|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||Tennessee Titans||2013|
|Jake Locker||Tennessee Titans||2013|
"I was engrained as a young coach when I was brought into this league with a certain quote, which is – and I remember this when I was a player, because it did affect me – 'If you think the coach can help you get better, that's one of the most important things outside of him caring about you as a person,'" Ragone said.
Ryan is far from the reason Ragone is excited to be joining the Falcons. Apart from reuniting with Smith, who Ragone says he has great respect for, the offense in Atlanta features both established stars and up-and-coming ones such as Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage.
How he chooses to utilize all of the weapons at his disposal is what Ragone will spend the coming months trying to figure out, but it's a challenge he's excited to undertake.
"It's going to be a great experience to be able to put an offense and adapt around the ability of the players on the current roster, and who's going to be added," Ragone said. "To me, that's probably the most exciting thing about this job opportunity."
Atlanta Falcons named Dave Ragone new offensive coordinator. Ragone previously coached at the Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team, and Tennessee Titans.