One thing the Falcons have repeatedly made work is the no-huddle offense, a hurry-up approach that has kept defenses off balance since quarterback Matt Ryan entered the league took over the offense in 2008.
While new offensive cooridinator Dirk Koetter taking over this season, it was a little unclear how some aspects of the offense would change. Most believed, however, the Falcons would keep the no huddle in the game plan because of the success they've had with it. If how the Falcons operated on O Thursday night is an indication, the no huddle will continue to be a viable part of the offense.
The Falcons used the no huddle on their first drive and continued to return to it. Following the big 26-yard strike to Julio Jones on the fourth play of the game, Ryan had his team in the no huddle and they continued to move forward. Four plays later, Ryan connected with Jones again for a 7-yard touchdown pass.
"I thought we executed well in the no huddle," Ryan said after the game. "Communication is paramount in that situation. Our guys up front did a really good job with it, and our guys on the outside got the calls and executed it the way we needed to. Those are the things you can draw from and those are the things that please you in a preseason game."
Starting fast on offense has been a hallmark of the Falcons under head coach Mike Smith. Since '08 they are 34-9 when they score first and in that time their 173 points scored on their first possession leads the NFL. The Saints are second to the Falcons with 171. Last season the Falcons scored 51 points on first possessions.
"That's how you want to start," Ryan said. "You want to start fast. You want to start executing well, and I think we did that tonight, but there are certainly some areas we need to improve. Some things we didn't do as well as we would've liked. It's a good start and we need to keep trying to get better."
Falcons head coach Mike Smith said he and Koetter utilized the no huddle with all offensive groups that played in the game on Thursday.