FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Focus has been a big topic of conversation at the Falcons practice facility this week, and it's something Matt Ryan would like to see more consistently across the board from the offense.
When the unit is dialed in, Atlanta's offense can be among the very best in the league. This season, however, that hasn't often been the case. The Falcons' 34-20 loss to the Packers last Sunday provided a good example of that.
Three of the team's biggest plays were negated due to holding penalties, and those missed chances are particularly tough to overcome on the road. The Falcons were penalized 13 times for 101 yards against the Packers. Six flags were thrown against Green Bay for 37 yards.
"The explosive plays that you create that come back, those mistakes are tough to overcome," Ryan said. "Your odds of scoring touchdowns when you create one of those explosive plays in a drive, your chances of scoring are through the roof. When they get called back it's even more difficult to overcome that.
"We didn't do a good enough job of responding in those situations. They're tough to overcome. Penalties, particularly when you're on the road, it's more difficult to overcome those things and keep drives going."
The Falcons (4-9) had a pair of 32-yard passes, one to Julio Jones and one to Mohamed Sanu, wiped away because of a penalty. The same holds true for a 14-yard run by Ito Smith. All three of those plays would have set Atlanta up with great field position in Green Bay territory.
While it would be understandable to dwell on missed chances, Ryan says there is really only one approach to take.
"My message is always the same," Ryan said. "It's a next-play mentality. That's the way you have to operate in this league, regardless of what has happened good or bad. Your focus has to shift and move on to that next play."
Atlanta's offense went on a scoring drought after its opening touchdown drive of the game, allowing the Packers (5-7-1) to go on a 34-0 run and put the game largely out of reach. That came one week after the Falcons' offense accounted for only nine points in the 26-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
Despite the recent struggles, Ryan maintains that the team's focus has been good throughout the week, a sentiment coach Dan Quinn has echoed. The difference, it seems, is Atlanta's ability to turn that preparation into consistent focus on Sundays.
"I honestly think the preparation has been pretty good," Ryan said. "We've done a good job with those things. We've just made mistakes at inopportune times. Clearly if we could pinpoint it, we'd prevent it."