Andrew Hirsh:The 2015 season was one of your best in the NFL. How would you assess your first year in Atlanta?
Jacob Tamme: I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed being a part of our offense, enjoyed the guys we have. I think we started off the season doing really, really good things. Obviously we hit a stretch there during the middle of the season that was a little bit frustrating. We all felt like we needed to be doing better. And, for me personally, the season ended with a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth. When I look back on it now, I see a lot of promise, so I'm excited about my role again. I feel like I could have had an even better year last year and I feel poised to have an even better year this year. So for me, that part of it is really exciting.
AH: What do you think changed for the offense when things got rough?
JT: I don't spend a lot of time thinking about what we need to do or what other people need to do, because I'm worried about what I need to do. Because that's the one thing I can really control. From a leadership standpoint, though, one thing we have to stay on top of this year is turnovers. I think that it's just a focus of making sure the football is the most important thing in your life when you have it in your hands. If we could have cut our red zone turnovers in half last year, who knows what we could have done. So more than anything, it's a mindset that the ball is ours, we're going to protect it and we're going to get it in the end zone and score. We're not going to have drives where we do all these good things and don't finish them. The mindset that nobody can stop us—we lost that for a few weeks there. We didn't play up to our potential. We have to get that mindset back.
AH: A lot of guys say it takes more than 12 months to get fully comfortable with an NFL system. Now that you and the other offensive players have spent a lot of time learning Kyle Shanahan's scheme, how much do you think that familiarity will help moving forward?
JT: Well I think it's going to help a lot. For me, it was the first time learning this style of offense, and it takes some time. It takes everyone some time. And not even from a learning perspective as far as (the playbook). Everyone studies, everyone prepares. We prepared well … There's a lot of intricacies of our offense that takes reps on the field. You have to put yourself in situations where, "If this happens, you have to do this, this or that." Those are easiest and best learned on the field in real time—even in walkthroughs. All the repetitions we had last year helped, and I'm excited about this year because we'll go into the start of this offseason with a background and an understanding. Whereas last year, everything was obviously brand new.
AH: You recently attended the players-only passing camp Matt Ryan put together in Florida. How did that go?
JT: I feel like it went great. I feel like it went really outstanding. We not only got to work on the field—there was the camaraderie aspect, too. Guys get away from each other this time of year, and that's healthy, but to have that many guys want to get together and hang out this time of year was really cool. I think it's a good sign. First of all, it shows the tremendous amount of respect the guys have for Matt. And Matt did an excellent job putting it together. We got excellent work in.
AH: What did the team focus on down there?
JT: Just getting back to the basics. Route trees and timing and all those little things where the reps help throughout the game. We had defensive guys there that did their own drill work. … Just to get on the field together was a lot of fun.
AH: Ryan's camp was your first chance to work alongside Mohamed Sanu. What was your initial impression of him?
JT: He looked great. More than anything I enjoyed hanging out with him. He fit right in with everybody right off the back. On the offensive side of the ball, we're going to have a lot of fun playing ball together this year. And the guy has a knack for making one-handed catches, I guess. That was evident.
AH: Some people in the media think the Falcons are going to draft a tight end later this month. If the team adds a rookie tight end to the mix, how would you approach that scenario as a veteran?
JT: Well I don't spend much time worrying about that stuff to be honest with you. I never have. My job is to get myself ready to play ball. I feel very ready to do that. Like I told you, I think I can have the best year of my career this year. My body feels great; I feel really blessed. And I'm excited about getting a second year in this offense. So, you know, I don't worry about the stuff I can't control. I think we'll have a great group of tight ends however it ends up, and we'll be ready to do our part.