As the Falcons enter Sunday’s season opener against visiting Tampa Bay, it’s fair to wonder if increasing the tempo with the no-huddle will be a regular part of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s game plan. Ryan has thrived with the no-huddle in the past; last season, he engineered two successful touchdown drives early in the Jacksonville game while going without a huddle.
The Falcons also now have a player more capable of directing traffic in such situations with three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack coming over from Cleveland; last season the Falcons had an inexperienced, first-time center in converted guard Mike Person.
Mack played under Shanahan with Browns, who he said ran the no-huddle quite effectively.
"When any team does the hurry-up offense, it’s a high-tempo thing, and you have to be in condition for it," Mack said. "I think it’s tough on the defense to get those calls in quickly and get lined up fast because of that change in tempo.
"All quarterbacks in our system here have done a really good job [in practice and preseason games] with the hurry-up with getting the calls in quickly and getting people lined up. The big thing is just communicating and being loud, making sure everybody gets the call. You’ve got to be on your feet, thinking quickly."
So will Shanahan’s openness to input from Ryan along with the addition of Mack result in more no-huddle?
"No-huddle is really never about one player in particular," Shanahan said. "We did a lot of no-huddle in Cleveland. We did the same amount here last year. You did it when you think it’s effective. It involves the whole team, what your game plan is, what you’re going against.
"I can’t tell you exactly what we’re going to do week to week. We try to do the stuff that we worked the most at and we think we’re the best at."
So how much do the Falcons work on the no-huddle?
"We’re never not working on it," Shanahan said.
The whole purpose, as Mack noted, is to put opponents in awkward situations where they might have the wrong personnel in the game or have defenders gasping for air. Picking up first downs are imperative from an offensive perspective, of course.
Again, Ryan typically has been on point when running the no-huddle, so one would think he’d at least nudge Shanahan about using it every once in awhile.
"That’s something we talk about a lot," Ryan said. "And we used it at different times last year -- some with success, some without success. But, yeah, that’s something we talk about, and we feel like every week we have it at our disposal. Sometimes, we feel like it’s an advantage for us. Sometimes, we don’t. But it’s certainly something that we have the capability of doing."