It does not take a genius to realize that there is a problem with Atlanta's passing game. Charles McDonald broke down the tape, finding that Matt Ryan is being asked to do a number of things that are not his specialty, but believing he just needs more time in the scheme. Wide receiver Roddy White thinks the Falcons need more deep passing. Then there's the players' only meeting, where many have guessed that the players discussed the offensive struggles. We also looked at Kyle Shanahan's lackluster quarterback history.
The frustration in Flowery Branch appears to be mounting, as we are seeing an inordinate number of stories in the media. The always plugged-in Vaughn McClure of ESPN has the scoop on some of the offensive problems in a larger story where Kyle Shanahan talks about his and Ryan's communication, and his stated willingness to listen to player complaints.
The word is that Ryan has raised his voice and his offensive concerns behind closed doors. He also has admitted to being a little overwhelmed by the playbook at times, although publicly Ryan continues to talk about how there is a transition period with any new offense. He's thrown 12 interceptions this season, including a league-leading four in the red zone.
This is not what fans want to hear 11 games into the season. Ryan made a sizable improvement in 2012, his first year moving from Mike Mularkey's offense to Dirk Koetter's heavy passing offense. Moving to Kyle Shanahan's offense, Ryan's quarterback rating is now at his lowest since his injury-marred sophomore season.
The player frustration is not surprising, given the results on the field. Neither is the fact that the playbook does not appear to fit Ryan's strengths. He has frequently looked lost in the pocket, in stark contrast to his improved pocket presence of 2014. The stubborn refusal to run more no huddle is perplexing, and the number of designed rollouts is equally so.
Vaughn's article mentioned that Shanahan has "scaled back" the offense since the Titans game in response to player concerns. However, the article also mentions that Shanahan has included more uptempo plays in recent weeks. As mentioned in the McDonald film study above, however, the Falcons barely broke into the no huddle against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Falcons ran seven no huddle plays, with five of them coming on the same drive.
Ouch. While Shanahan and Ryan are publicly saying all the right things, it appears there is dissatisfaction beneath the surface, and that may only be fixed by winning.