Coming back into the fold in Atlanta for a second time, Koetter finds that he is remembering a few things about how Ryan plays the game, and how he helps the Falcons offense move.
“I think the thing I took for granted when I was away was his accuracy,” Koetter said this offseason. “Matt also now is a coach on the field. He knows this system like the back of his hand. He’s out there directing traffic. When he has young guys out there, he knows exactly what he wants them to do and what it should look like. And he’s good at expressing it.”
Ryan and Koetter have worked together before, and with some positive results.
Atlanta reached the NFC Championship Game after the 2012 season with Koetter calling plays, and Ryan leading the NFL in completion percentage.
In 2014, Koetter called a Falcons offense that averaged 378.2 yards per game, 284.6 passing yards per game, and 23.8 points per game, all ranking in the top dozen in football. In Tampa Bay as head coach, his offense averaged third in yards per game and first in passing yards per game. The Buccaneers finished 5-11 overall.
Ryan enjoyed consistent production with Koetter as play caller, in the 2012 season leading the NFL in completion percentage (68.9 percent).
Over three seasons with Koetter as the main play caller, Ryan averaged 4,643 yards, 29 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and completed around 67 percent of his pass attempts.
In the 2012-13 season, the Falcons earned a berth in the NFC Championship Game with this offense.
Ryan is coming off a pretty good passing season in 2018.
He completed 69.4 percent of his pass attempts, his second best mark, amassed 4,924 yards in the air, also his second most, scored 35 passing touchdown, again his second best, had seven interceptions, a career low, and had a 1.2 percent interception rate, his lowest ever.
Koetter says that, in some ways, Ryan is teaching him how the team does things.
“Right now, Matt knows this system better than I do. I’m playing catch up with him,” he said. “Matt’s teaching me a lot right now. It’s a work in progress right now, and that will continue right up to when we start playing for real.”
For his part, Ryan says he has learned a lot since Koetter was last in Atlanta.
“I learned a lot in the passing game,” Ryan said.
“A lot about how to process information at the quarterback position in the passing game from him. How to eliminate certain things early, pre snap. I felt like I made a big jump during those years in terms of learning keys and really understanding about eliminating certain parts of progression to make you play faster to make you play more clear headed.”