When the Atlanta Falcons hired Steve Sarkisian to become their offensive coordinator, many believed he wouldn’t rock the boat too much and keep the momentum going for an offense that was the most diverse last season. Many didn’t predict he would be able to take the production to another level. Today, Sarkisian did just that.
“I think, No. 1, they were still very good in the red zone,” Sarkisian said of the 2106 Falcons. “But when you have a player like Julio Jones, it’s making sure we maximize his opportunities because there is so much double-coverage, there are so many unique coverages that roll his way that when we don’t get that, let’s make sure he’s one of the primary receivers on that play because it is such a tough matchup for anybody one on one.”
Julio only caught four balls on eight targets last season. Shocking, considering the former Alabama standout is a matchup nightmare on fade routes and jump balls. However, Jones was often double or triple teamed in the red zone. Quarterback Matt Ryan would often spread the ball around to running backs Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. Also, wide-receiver Mohamed Sanu caught nine passes on eleven targets with four touchdowns. The Falcons completed 61.9% of their passes in the redzone.
More importantly, Sarkisian’s relationship with Ryan is blossoming. Sarkisian was effusive in praising Matty Ice’s work ethic.
“It’s excellent,” Sarkisian said. “Matt is a very competitive human being, at anything. It doesn’t matter if we’re shooting hoops at the front of the team room, he’s a competitive guy. But we’ll say for a guy who has had so much success, his willingness and humbleness to want to be coached — in his mind, he hasn’t made it. It’s about, `How do I get better? What do I need to work on?’
“Coming out of the first meeting, he really wanted me to dig into his game overall from a year ago and where can he improve. I think that just speaks volumes to the type of player he is, the type of teammate, the type of leader. Anybody that walks in this building, when you see that guy working as hard as he works, it’s contagious.”