Because Matt Ryan had been running effectively the same system his entire career, and because he faltered so badly last year, there was a natural question about his working relationship with new Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
But even though Ryan might not appear to be the perfect candidate for all the bootlegs and other aspects of Shanahan’s offense, Ryan said any problems between them were overblown.
“I think a lot was made about a little,” Ryan said, via Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “Anytime you’re not winning a bunch of games, you’re always looking to see what you can do to be better. And I think that’s the case of what everybody was making a big deal out of last year. We were trying to find ways to win games. We did it well, at times. We didn’t do it well, at times.
“I think both of us are much further along in terms of myself, understanding the system, understanding what Kyle expects from our position; how to get in and out of plays. I think we’re way further along at this point than we were last year, and I feel like both of us feel really good about our offense heading into this season.”
Things looked good early, as the Falcons got off to a 5-0 start. But that didn’t last, as the offense cratered, with Ryan throwing 16 picks to go with five fumbles. Eliminating the picks has been an emphasis this offseason, but Shanahan doesn’t want to limit Ryan, either.
“You go over [the interceptions] to a degree, but what you don’t ever want to do is make a quarterback scared to throw the ball,” Shanahan said. “You’ve got to let it rip in this league. If you thinking about picks, thinking about not turning the ball over, then it’s really hard to move the ball and score points. You want to guys to be aggressive. You want guys to let it rip when they see it. You just don’t want guys to guess. I think we’ve been doing better in that.”
And though there were some growing pains last year, they’re on the same page at the moment, which should only help an offense that added a number of key parts this offseason.