Matt Ryan says he remains confident in Kyle Shanahan, Falcons’ offense

010416 FLOWERY BRANCH: Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and quarterback Matt Ryan pack up after their team meeting the day after losing to the Saints to finish their season at 8-8 on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Flowery Branch. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who has started organized offseason workouts with the rest of the team, says he still believes in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who came under criticism last season. (Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com)

The Falcons go into the NFL draft late next week with one objective: improve the defense.

They will spend their first pick on a defensive player.

They will spend their second pick on a defensive player.

They will invest most of their selections on players whose job description is stopping and/or mauling the other team and celebrate each pick with only human cheers, cognizant that they’ve already been stripped of a fifth-rounder and that commissioner Roger Goodell reserves the right to pie owner Arthur Blank in the face should they pipe in more artificial crowd noise.

But most of the intrigue this offseason doesn’t center on how much better the Falcons can get on defense as much as whether it’s possible for them to improve on offense. The expensive free-agent signings of center Alex Mack and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu should help. But without improvement from quarterback Matt Ryan and coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the value of the Mack and Sanu signings will diminish.

So it was that Ryan took a step toward alleviating concerns Tuesday, saying that he sometimes took too long to process Shanahan’s scheme and affirming that he is “excited” to have him back. (I’ve never endorsed Shanahan’s firing, but I can report “excited” has not been a word used in any tweet, email or comment I’ve received over the past several months.)

“There’s that four or five seconds in your head where you’re trying to sort out what we’re doing,” Ryan said, referencing points when he struggled in the offense last season. “As you’re in a system more, you start focusing on the things that are important — what you’re going against defensively, what your keys are in protection, what you’re looking for from a coverage standpoint.”

Asked if he felt more comfortable in a recent passing camp in Miami, Ryan responded, “I think everybody was more comfortable. Jacob Tamme was new in a system, new to me. Justin Hardy was a guy who was always trying to get settled and figure out what he was doing. When we were in Miami and had a chance to work together, I could already tell we were a lot further along than we were even at certain points midway through the season last year.”

The Falcons have gone three consecutive seasons without making the playoffs. They haven’t missed the playoffs four consecutive years since the particularly dysfunctional days of Dan Henning and Marion Campbell (eight consecutive seasons, 1983-90), long before Arthur Blank became owner (2002).

I believe Blank is putting everybody on the clock, not just general manager Thomas Dimitroff but coach Dan Quinn and his staff and Ryan, who will have only two years left on a $103.75 million contract after the 2016 season. The owner is as competitive as any player or coach, and the looming move into a new stadium only magnifies the situation.

Ryan, who spoke as offseason workouts opened at the team’s Flowery Branch facility, reiterated the need for improved red-zone production and fewer turnovers. Both are largely on him: He had 16 interceptions (second most of his career), and 12 fumbles and eight lost fumbles (both career-highs, although a few mishandles could’ve been attributed to his center).

So in total, Ryan accounted for 24 of his team’s 30 turnovers. Even for the player who handles the ball on every offensive snap, that’s way too many.

Ryan believes familiarity will help this season, and that goes to Shanahan’s knowledge of his players as much as players’ knowledge of the offense.

As for criticism of Shanahan, who was retained by Quinn without hesitation, Ryan said: “When you’re not winning games, criticism goes in a lot of directions. That goes with playing in this league, playing quarterback, being a head coach, being an offensive coordinator. I’m excited he’s back. I think we learned a lot in Year 1 about each other, a lot about what we can be and what we don’t need to be. A lot of those things will serve us well.”

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16 comments

Even if they had Lombardi it would not make a difference. Dan Reeves won and did not even coach 70% of his games in 88. Talent wins and Ryan,Jones make up 40% of the payroll on the Falcons.IF winning means so much to him then take a paycut, fire dimitroff and add more talent then I can coach them because talent wins not coachs.

Norris Freeman
Norris Freeman

Just this simple.Shanahan has got to go asap. If falcon wants to win.

John Stotts
John Stotts

This team is F'd! We Sucked #### last year with Head Coach SHANAHAN with the leagues easiest schedule. Now we have the hardest schedule in the league now. For all you people who want to nitpick. Shanahan was the head coach of the team after week 6, not Coach Bro (Quinn)

Stu Barron
Stu Barron

What else is he going to say? I think he's capable of being a great leader/quarterback on the field, but publicly, Matt's a highly agreeable company man that spews nothing but clichés and is afraid to step on any toes which makes him so uninteresting and boring to a fault.

Jose Barrera Rajo
Jose Barrera Rajo

They should've stopped the process of the checks he was getting deposited into his account.

OH:IO
OH:IO

FIRE SCHANNY!

Gris Julian GP
Gris Julian GP

Bracket Julio = stop the pass. Sniff out DiMarco = stop the run.

Matthew Pociask
Matthew Pociask

What is hard to process about "Always throw to Julio Jones"?

Michael Dillinger
Michael Dillinger

Not so sure that is how they draw up the plays, but I do believe that it is always their back up plan when things go south.

Barry Pendry
Barry Pendry

I think it was 2 hard headed individuals going at each other....maybe they see eye to eye now.

Savraj Sirrah
Savraj Sirrah

Hope that's true However I respect the class Matt Ryan's showing towards the situation

TOJacket
TOJacket

Matt should just kick him in his shannahans!

TideDawg
TideDawg

Saying the right things is one approach. Continually saying how much he likes Shannahan and his style of offense sounds like a QB that is trying to convince himself that the offense is good and Shannahan is wonderful. When you realize that your boss (Quinn) is locked in with the OC, you had better start praising the OC. I always thought that a good OC, DC, or whatever, developed a system to fit the talent that he has. That's like Paul Johnson ramming his offense down the throats of players ill suited to run it. Can you imagine an OC not using a player like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning because they didn't fit his offense. No! Ryan is not great but he would probably be better with an offense built around what he does best.

Edgar
Edgar

If Shanahan throws him under the bus again this season and Quinn and Blank buy into it I can figure where he would go. I don't like this OC. I agree with HOM when you the 7 weeks of video is out then you got his book. You're right Jeff, the dysfunctional years of Henning and Campbell were horrible. Glanville brought some relief but not until Blank bought the team did succes take over. Now what.

HistoryofMatt
HistoryofMatt

What do we expect Matt and Julio to say? They are good company men; always toeing the line.


Roddy may be a little crazy, but when has Roddy White ever lied to you, to D-Led, or to anyone? The man has a big mouth, but the words coming out of it are the unvarnished truth. It's one of the things I love most about Roddy, even though he often makes me cringe.


We know exactly how this year is going to go. It's like EVERY SINGLE YEAR Shanahan has been an OC in the NFL:


The offense will start hot, teams will get tape on the Falcons, then the bottom will fall out.


It's a verifiable pattern with Nepotism Boy. There is no hope of getting better. Things will only get worse.


And then we can watch as Nepotism Boy throws Ryan under the bus AGAIN. Who does everyone think that "anonymous source" about Ryan being too stupid to grasp the brilliance of Nepotism Boy's offense was last year? Just like he threw McNabb under the bus, Shanahan threw Ryan under the bus, and he will do it again. He's a snake who was born on third but convinced he hit a triple.


The facts don't like, folks. The facts don't lie. Read them for yourselves.


https://www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/3vzjol/what_is_wrong_with_the_atlanta_falcons_a_look/



danielmharding
danielmharding

@JeffSchultzAJC Also, privately, Mr. Ryan noted the millions the Falcons are paying him to be mediocre spend as well as if he were elite.