FLOWERY BRANCH — A bye week gave Falcons coach Dan Quinn a chance to consider tweaks to the team’s slumping offense.
The open week also provided time for a possible conclusion that no dramatic changes are needed.
Quarterback Matt Ryan downplayed talk of changes. He said the offense simply needs to take better advantage of its opportunities after losing three of four games, including their last two, before the bye.
“We just need to get back to executing in the way we are capable of,” Ryan said after Wednesday’s practice. “I think areas that we need to improve are third downs and red zone. In order to be better in those situations, to me it comes down to making the plays when you have the opportunity.”
There is statistical evidence of the missed opportunities. Ryan is fifth in the league with 2,702 yards passing, but only 20th with 12 touchdown passes. He needs a strong finish to approach his average of 29 TD passes in his last five seasons.
The Falcons (6-3) are looking for an offensive recovery when they play Indianapolis on Sunday. Quinn said there may be “subtle” changes this week.
“We just want to make sure we’re featuring everybody in the best way,” Quinn said.
Atlanta has one of the league’s most productive tandems in running back Devonta Freeman and wide receiver Julio Jones. Freeman and Jones have combined for 2,198 total yards — 60.7 percent of the team’s total. Of Atlanta’s 27 touchdowns, the two have combined for 18, the most for any tandem in the NFL.
Before the bye, Jones and receiver Roddy White pushed for the Falcons to pick up the tempo on offense. Ryan had success in the no-huddle offense under former coach Mike Smith.
Freeman hinted changes may be coming.
“I just know on Monday we did a couple of periods with fast tempo and stuff,” Freeman said Wednesday. “I don’t really know how our coaching staff really wants to go, if they want to go with the fast pace. Whatever they decide to do, we’ve got to go out and execute and make it happen.”
The Falcons have used the no-huddle approach only in their two-minute offense.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano said in a conference call with Falcons reporters that he has seen no decline in Atlanta’s offense in recent weeks.
“No, they’ve got an explosive offense,” Pagano said, adding first-year offensive coordinator. Kyle Shanahan “has done a great job.”
Wide receiver Nick Williams said no dramatic changes are necessary.
“Kyle is a very consistent guy,” Williams said. “I don’t think he’s going to make any drastic changes, and I don’t think he needs to. It’s not necessary. It’s just things we need to do from an execution standpoint, a couple plays here and there. A lot of times the game comes down to five or six plays and the first five games we were making them. The last couple of games we haven’t really made them.”
Pagano said the key is Freeman, who has been effective as a runner and receiver. He has 721 yards rushing with nine touchdowns and is the team’s second-leading receiver with 48 catches.
“Anytime you’re able to produce like they’re producing on the ground, it just opens everything up in the pass game and the play-action pass game,” Pagano said.
NOTES: S Robenson Therezie (hamstring) was the only player held out of practice. Players limited were: WR Leonard Hankerson (hamstring), LB Justin Durant (calf), CB Robert Alford (groin), S William Moore (groin), DE Tyson Jackson (ribs) and DT Grady Jarrett (elbow).