After a few months to heal, we think we may be able to start discussing the Super Bowl incident again. While Matt Ryan and Dan Quinn have rewatched the game multiple times, we have done our best to turn away from ESPN for the entire month of February. I still can’t follow the official NFL twitter account.
We have so many unanswered questions, and they mostly center around the offensive game plan. Or sometimes just general questions, like, “Oh god, why?” After two months, I have yet to see any good explanations for the late-game plays. The offense had been aggressive, agreed, but there is a line between aggressive and just plain stupid.
The defense, which played over 100 snaps in the game, was gassed. Pressure was getting to Matt Ryan. The run game was effective and the Falcons just needed to kill some clock. Atlanta’s lead seemed insurmountable, and the Falcons had the chance to ice out the game with a few running plays.
Why didn’t Ryan audible away from a line of aggressive passing plays? According to him, he couldn’t. From D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, summarizing an interview on 680 The Fan.
Ryan wouldn’t point any fingers at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan for his play-calling. He contended that once the play is called it’s on the players to execute it. He said he couldn’t audible, in part, because of the personnel grouping.
We don’t have the audio of the interview, but Shanahan has always maintained a lot of control over his offense. While West coast-inspired offenses do not give quarterbacks a lot of control, it was alarming that Ryan could only audible on about half of the plays. The offense was apparently forced to play the call on the other half of their snaps, regardless of what the defense was doing.
It sounds like that happened in the Super Bowl incident, and the bad play calling doomed Atlanta’s otherwise unstoppable offense.