Voluntary workouts began this week and members of the media had a chance to see the Falcons back at work Thursday morning. Head coach Dan Quinn, QB Matt Ryan and CB Desmond Trufant answered questions in a press conference.
The Falcons' offseason program began Monday and players have been hard at work this week, getting in shape and learning the new playbook. Head coach Dan Quinn, quarterback Matt Ryan and cornerback Desmond Trufant met with the media after workouts Thursday and here's what we found out:
1. Top Turnout: Quinn called the turnout for voluntary workouts "outstanding" Thursday, and the weight room was certainly evidence that players are excited about being back in Flowery Branch. The media were able to view 20 minutes of the defense's weight room time and the room was packed.
Among the participants: Trufant, safeties William Moore, Dezmen Southward and Charles Godfrey, cornerback Robert Alford, linebacker Paul Worrilow, defensive end Ra'Shede Hageman and new additions, like cornerback Philip Adams and defensive lineman O'Brien Schofield.
Of note: Moore, who spent much of 2014 battling shoulder injuries, was fully participating in the weight room session and looked to be healthy.
2. Ryan Ready to See Run Game: Ryan set about learning the Kyle Shanahan offense from the moment he could get a playbook in his hands. This offseason has been about collaboration between Ryan, Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, and the three have come up with what they believe is a great mix of what Shanahan's offense does well and what Ryan has done well with in his career.
One of the things Shanahan has brought to the NFL is a solid run game behind the zone-blocking scheme, and that aspect of the offense caught Ryan's eye.
"The one thing you do see from this scheme is that they've had success everywhere they've gone running the football," Ryan said. "They've allowed different styles of backs, lots of different guys to really do a great job. They're very specific in what they do. We're going to be very specific in how we run the football. They teach it really well."
Shanahan's past with running backs is certainly impressive, making Houston's Steve Slaton a 1,200-yard rusher in 2008 and Washington's Alfred Morris a 1,600-yard rusher in 2012 and a 1,200-yard rusher in 2013. Last year in Cleveland, Shanahan's offense created 1,200 yards combined between running backs Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell.
3. Freedom Rings Throughout Defense: Trufant's ties to the Seattle area, growing up in Washington, have led to plenty of calls and texts from fellow players, all saying how much Trufant will enjoy working with Quinn. As the work gets started this week, one thing has impressed Trufant most about Quinn's defensive scheme: freedom.
Trufant said that Quinn's defense allows each player to play fast and free. There's little thinking involved, and that allows for much faster recognition of plays. Faster recognition leads to a faster understanding of each player's duties. "What I love about it so far is it's not too complicated," Trufant said. "It's just going to allow us to play fast. Of course, you're going to have to know exactly what to do. We're going to have to communicate, things like that, but just how free we're going to be and the simplicity of it will allow us to go make plays out there."
4. Tale of the Tape: Quinn wasted no time getting to work with players this offseason, and his first task after accepting the position was evaluating the roster. Every player on the roster received a video Quinn referred to as "point-of-attack tape." He explained that each video was a package of that player's film that pointed out what each player was doing correctly and what areas of improvement are needed this offseason.
"It was a good way for our assistant coaches to get to know these players as well as we can," Quinn said. "One of my biggest challenges in the first part of the job was getting to know our own team as well as we could. Those 'point-of-attack' tapes were a really important part of it. That's what this week has been about."
Trufant praised the use of the tapes when he spoke to the media, saying it has helped players understand exactly what they need to be working on this offseason and leaves nothing to ambiguity.
5. No Names, But Lots of Promise: Quinn mentioned that several players came into the workout program this week in "ridiculously good shape." While Quinn didn't mention any of those players by name, the shape the team entered the offseason program with was a pleasant surprise for the first-year coach.
"Some of the guys who came in in great shape are ready to take this offseason on and really have that best offseason they've ever had," Quinn said. "That mindset coming in, being in that good of shape — that told me a lot."