FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, gave us his early training camp state of the offense address.
He talked about how he survived during the lockout, throwing more deep passes and rookie wide receiver Julio Jones.
Q: What did you do with the extra time during the lockout?
A: A lot of planning because of what you had to do basically was plan like it was going to be a normal offseason. Then as dates expired you had to anticipate what could happen next. We had to plan for that next thing, which was a lot of planning. All at the same time, we were kind of looking at ourselves. We always do that every year. We self-scout ourselves. What do we do good? What do we do bad? Why did we do it good? Was it the scheme? Was it the players? Was it the defense we were against? We went through the whole 2010 season and then we’ll try to make some improvements. If there are some things that maybe we don’t have the players to do, we throw it out.”
Q: What’s the plan getting rookie Julio Jones ready to play?
A: Fortunately, with the time period we had after the draft we had a chance to get him the book. At least, he has the beginning stages of the offseason. . . He’s going to always be ahead of the other rookies and he always has a chance to look ahead because he’s already had something previously. The coaches have done a great job with the others guys who didn’t get that book. They have caught them up rather quickly with the way they’ve coached them.
Q: How’s your depth at wide receiver after not re-signing Brian Finneran and releasing Michael Jenkins?
A: Obviously, with Kerry [Meier] being out with an injury last year, he still learned a lot from being in meetings. I think Harry [Douglas] got stronger. I thought he played better as the year went on and then we had the addition of Julio. We’ve got some guys. We have guys that we can move all over. They are not specifically outside. We can move them all over because they are smart enough. In our offense, we do a lot of things and you have to have the ability to play in different places. We have that ability with our guys.
Q: Were you relieved to see two of the three starting offensive linemen re-signed?
A: You’ve got some guys that have been there for the three years that we’ve been here. They will be great examples of how we do things. It’s easy for me to show tape of what’s expected of them from techniques to finishing. I think it will all come together the more we walk through. . .it will come together.
Q: What goes into scheming and creating more explosive plays (gains of 20 yards or more)? Is it just a matter of throwing more deep passes?
A: That’s part of it. It’s protecting better to get explosives plays. It’s defenses allowing us to get explosive plays. It’s players creating explosive plays by breaking a tackle or making a guy miss. There are a lot of things that go into creating explosive plays. We all have to manage that and see if we can get some explosive plays.
Q: What’s the status of the no-huddle attack?
A: Obviously, it’s a part of our offense and we’re very confident in it.
Q: What are the keys to Matt Ryan’s continued development?
A: The field, he’s seeing things. It’s getting bigger to him. He can see things that I can see from upstairs, he can already see. Before we can even have a conversation, I know that he’s going to see some things as we go forward. He’s already advanced in our protection scheme, just in the little time we’ve been together. I know Matt, he’s told me, that he spent a lot of time in the offseason studying himself, studying the offense, and studying defenses. I know that will help him this year.
Q: How’s rookie running back Jacquizz Rodgers looking?
A: He has shown some explosiveness out here. Now, he is a little behind the eight ball because he didn’t get a book as Julio did. When he’s had his opportunities, he has gotten some ‘wows’ based on some of the things he’s done. But he’s still got a ways to go, especially with the protections.
Q: What are your thoughts on the new practice rules? (Fewer padded practices, required days off and no two-a-day practices).
A: The one thing I think that Coach [Mike] Smith does, we’re always prepared for what is going to happen. I think our players know that. Nothing . . . It’s just a like a game. Nothing changes. It’s been that way for our team the last three years and more specifically about our offense, we don’t flinch. We just adjust and do whatever we have to do to it the right way. I think the rules are the rules and we’re going to abide by them. We’ve done that every year from the get-go. We’ve got team leaders. We’ve got great chemistry on this team. we all work together well. I think that’s why we have success.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog