FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Of all the aspects that made Matt Ryan’s performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday so special, one impressed offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter more than anything else. And it wasn’t Ryan’s career-best 148.4 passer rating.
Koetter pointed to a play in the second quarter, when Ryan hit a streaking Harry Douglas for a 37-yard score.
"He made a great call on a touchdown to Harry,’’ Koetter said. "That was an audible, a little post-go. That was an audible by Matt. He saw the perfect coverage. We’ve been working on that thing for over a year. And he saw the perfect coverage and went to it. That’s his confidence in Harry and time spent in practice.’’
Ryan refused to give himself too much credit. But calling an audible can sometimes be an overlooked part of the offensive game plan. Just ask the Houston Texans, who dealt with a controversy in Week 4 when beleaguered quarterback Matt Schaub threw a pick-six’ against the Seahawks. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said Schaub didn’t have the authority to call an audible on the play.
Of course, a coach has to trust his quarterback in order to let him call an audible. And the Falcons and Koetter have plenty of faith in Ryan.
"For what we do offensively, we change the play at the line of scrimmage a lot,’’ Ryan said. "And it just comes down to your preparation during the week -- going over these things and talking to Dirk about it, understanding when we’re getting certain looks we want to go to certain stuff."
Ryan, the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week, explained what he saw on the touchdown to Douglas.
"Just a low safety on the backside of the route, and understanding if we can get him to bite on it, we have a chance to get behind him," he said. "To create explosives in this league, sometimes you’ve got to do those kinds of things and check plays at the line of scrimmage to get it done. Harry and I were on the same page there, so it was a good one."
Greats such as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have the unique ability to adjust plays with audibles no matter what receivers they have at their disposal. Koetter was asked if he pointed that aspect out to Ryan as he continues to work with a depleted receiving corps.
"I think Matt knows how talented he is," Koetter said. "I don’t think he needs me to be giving him any extra motivation."