Falcons QB Matt Ryan: 'No reason we can't' make playoffs this season

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Matt Ryan believes the Atlanta Falcons can make the postseason in 2015.

Ryan's confidence is symbolic of the team's renewed sense of optimism under new coach Dan Quinn despite missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. The Falcons went 4-12 in 2013 then followed with a 6-10 record last season, which led to the firing of Mike Smith and hiring of Quinn.

Ryan was asked Tuesday if there is reason to be hopeful about a return to the playoffs this season.

"Absolutely," Ryan said following Day 1 of mandatory minicamp. "There's absolutely no reason we can't get it done. We feel like that in the locker room, that we've just got to get better every day just on daily improvement and then go cut in loose when the season rolls around. But there's absolutely no reason."

Ryan and his teammates are more motivated than they are brash. The Falcons, three seasons removed from the NFC Championship Game, realize there is plenty of work ahead. However, a change of philosophy on defense, along with improved personnel on both sides of the ball -- not to mention the league's easiest schedule, statistically -- could result in an immediate turnaround.

Ryan's thoughts about the postseason came shortly after he reflected on top receiver Julio Jones expressing how dissatisfied he was with his individual performance during a record-setting '14 campaign. Jones amassed a franchise-best 1,593 receiving yards yet admitted he could have performed even better to help his team.

"I think it shows what kind of competitor Julio is," Ryan said. "He wants to win games. And I think it shows what he's about. Obviously, he can put up all the numbers in the world. And he's going to because he's an elite player and one of the very best in the world. But it's about more than that. It's about winning games."

Quinn knows all about winning. He was the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks the past two seasons during consecutive Super Bowl appearances, including one title. But Quinn, while not discouraging Ryan's optimism, cautioned not to look too far ahead.

"I really do [try to temper it] only because there's so much to be done," Quinn said. "Really, the way we're going to approach it for our team is every game's a championship game opportunity. ... And that way, those times when you don't have to get tight to over-try, when the playoff games come and the championship games come and the Super Bowls come, we do what we do. We play in that style and that fashion. So let's go and attack it. Let's have the best camp we can have, because all the stuff out there, it's a little far out for us. Let's put the work in right now. Let's pay the dues on how hard we've got to work to go have success.

"I like the confidence part knowing that if we play really well, all those other things are going to take place. And that should be the expectations: When we play like we're capable of, all those things will certainly be there and past the playoffs."