FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – One of the most important relationships on the football field is the one between the offensive coordinator and the quarterback. And for Steve Sarkisian and Matt Ryan, the two have only continued get more comfortable with one another and it's been evident on a number of occasions.
The Falcons' offensive coordinator has said it's "night and day" different in terms of his comfort level heading into his second year calling the plays for the Falcons' offense.
At this point last year, Sarkisian was heading into his final week of the preseason still trying to learn the intricacies of each one of his players all the while getting ready for the season. That's a lot to process in a short period of time.
Also keeping in mind, one of the players he was unable to work with during the offseason and training camp was All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones who underwent foot surgery following the 2016 season.
In many ways, Sarkisian was learning and having to adjust on the fly in his first year. Now, he's got a year under his belt and is able to approach situations in different ways.
"A lot of the situational stuff comes up in practice more so than it's come up in games for us during the preseason," Ryan said. "There's been a handful of times specifically in two-minute situations or low red-zone situations where we've had those things come up during practice and I'm kind of already thinking the way he's thinking before the play call comes in. I always think when you're on the same page with someone like that where I'm anticipating something coming in and then it comes in and I know exactly why he's calling in, those are the times in my past we've been really good. I feel like we're getting there."
The No. 1 area the Falcons want to improve in is their scoring offense. This has been an emphasis all offseason and an area coach Dan Quinn and the rest of his coaching staff have devoted a significant amount of time to this offseason.
Quinn even went as far to say that he's spent more time this year than he ever has working with Ryan and Sarkisian in this area so if anyone has been able to see firsthand how the two are working together, it's Quinn.
"When those situations come up in the end, during training camp and two-minute drills to talk about the situations," Quinn said. "I've probably been as close with the quarterbacks and Sark in those situations than I have over the first three years. That's been a big difference for me too."
With the improved comfort level between Sarkisian and Ryan and all of the talent Atlanta has in tow offensively, it's one of the reasons why the Falcons are a popular postseason pick among national writers.