The Atlanta Falcons used their version of the no-huddle just once in Sunday’s 31-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Down 31-13 with 5:12 remaining in the third quarter, Atlanta went uptempo and promptly marched 71 yards in 3:37 over the span of nine plays.
And that taste of success was evidently enough for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, as the Falcons didn’t return to the no-huddle on the following two drives.
The Falcons ended up with a possession that ended in a punt after the offense traveled 31 yards, and a 11-play, 49-yard drive that took 4:54 off the clock and put just three points on the board.
It’s no secret Matt Ryan is at his best in the no-huddle, something he learned starting with Mike Mularkey and then carrying over to Dirk Koetter.
Shanahan’s reluctance to use the no-huddle last season could be partly attributed to the struggles of converted center Mike Person. However, the Falcons now have Alex Mack, a center who’s plenty familiar with Shanahan from their time with the Cleveland Browns. Surely, that means he’d be more comfortable implementing it now.
Not so fast.
“No-huddle really is never about one player in particular,” Shanahan said, days before Sunday’s matchup against the Bucs. “You do it when you think it’s effective. It involves the whole team.”
Last season, Shanahan seemed hellbent on making a point concerning the no-huddle — and wide receiver Roddy White — in the Week 11 game versus the Indianapolis Colts. The offense went uptempo on its first possession with three straight passes to White, resulting in a three and out.
According to Shanahan, the Falcons are “never not working” on the no-huddle, which doesn’t inspire much confidence when it’s rarely seen in game situations.
On Tuesday, Ryan was asked about the no-huddle during his weekly radio appearance on 680 the Fan’s “The Front Row.”
“Well, I think there are pluses and minuses to it,” Ryan said. “For us, for our run scheme, it really waters down what you can in the run game. With the way our scheme is set up, it’s important for us to get that run game going.”
Against Tampa Bay, Atlanta mustered 52 rushing yards on 22 attempts.
“We do some good things with it — it’s just different,” Ryan said. “Our coaches feel and believe that getting in that huddle and creating motions and shifts and using some of those things to our advantages to get some of the fronts that you want is an advantage for us.”
Ultimately, there’s no point in asking Ryan if prefers the no-huddle or not, although he did say there’s an open dialogue with Shanahan concerning it.
It remains to be seen if the offense resorts to the no-huddle more frequently as the season wears on.