Matt Ryan: Falcons' offseason emphasis has to be consistency

Offseason workouts officially start Monday for the Atlanta Falcons. However, the offseason work started a while back for Matt Ryan.

Between preparing for the birth of his twin boys and awaiting a contract extension, the quarterback found time to huddle with tight end Austin Hooper outside the team facility for some 1-on-1 passing sessions.

"I don't know the specific number, but we've been able to work out quite a bit together on our own, which is good," Ryan said. "And I think that's really good, too, for Austin. He's coming into his third year in the league. I think he has a really good feel for what it takes to be successful. And I really feel like he's approached it and handled it really well. I think he's has a great start to the offseason."

Ryan expects a "great" offseason for the team, period.

The emphasis, from an offensive perspective, is working out the kinks that made the Falcons much less explosive last season than they were during the 2016 Super Bowl run. After leading the NFL at 33.8 points per game in '16, the Falcons dipped to a 22.1 points per game to rank 15th in the league last season. Their red zone production fell from ninth-best in the league (61.9 percent) to 23rd (50 percent). Such a dip is why the Falcons couldn't find a steady rhythm during a 10-6 season that ended with a divisional playoff loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia.

"I think this is the time of the year where we have to take a look at everything we did last year and then filter through, in the first couple weeks of the offseason program, what is going to be our specific points of emphasis," Ryan said. "But No. 1, to me, has to be consistency from the top down. And we talk about it all year.

"We were inconsistent at different points throughout games and throughout the season. Whatever it is we're doing, it's got to be consistent. If it's the weightlifting. If it's the conditioning. It's our meetings. It's how we show up. All those things, it's about being consistent."

A natural progression is expected as Ryan and his teammates move into the second year under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Of course, Sarkisian took his share of criticism after succeeding Kyle Shahahan. However, Ryan maintained all along that the transition to Sarkisian wasn't nearly as rocky as portrayed.

"I think [the communication] has been pretty good," Ryan said of his relationship with Sarkisian. "I think Sark has a really good understanding of our team, who we are, the personnel that we have, how we want to move forward. I think that stuff takes time. I think he has a good pulse for that, a good feel for that. I think our communication has been very good.

"I think he would tell you I'm very clear about what I like, what I don't like, all those things. We're a lot further along this time of the year than we were last year just because there's continuity throughout the offseason. So, I think it makes for a better offseason program."

The Falcons aren't completely healthy, with running back Devonta Freeman recovering from ligament damage in his right knee and wide receiver Justin Hardy recovering from shoulder surgery. But at least Ryan doesn't have to worry about top receiver Julio Jones rehabbing from an injury this offseason, as Jones was at this point last year.

"Being able to get some work on the field is going to be great," Ryan said of Jones. "I heard he's been working out with T.O. [Terrell Owens], and T.O. [has] got a great work ethic."

Part of the reason the passing game wasn't in sync last season had to do with drops. According to ProFootball Focus, the Falcons dropped 34 passes last season, which was among the league leaders.

"To me, physical mistakes, they happen," Ryan said, obviously referring to the drops that came on contested passes. "That's part of playing sports. You have to work them out. That's the biggest thing. To me, I know no other way than to get back onto the practice field and keep going.

"I thought those guys did a great job with that throughout the year. We're going to continue to do a good job throughout the offseason program of working on that. I've got full confidence that we're all going to make plays as we move forward."

As for assessing his own game, the one-time MVP Ryan is never satisfied.

"I think it was some missed opportunities where we had some chances to make some plays and missed on certain things," Ryan said. "That's one of the things that, when you have your chances, you have to hit them in this league.

"I thought there was a lot of good, too. And I believe that. Having gone back through it and looking at it, we were close. We were very close. And I said that throughout the year. And I really believe that. I think we're closer than maybe some other people think. To get over the hump, we've got to make the plays. And I've got to make the plays when they present themselves."