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Kyle Shanahan Talks Quarterbacks


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Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/13765/falcons-oc-kyle-shanahan-talks-qbs-from-matt-ryan-to-johnny-manziel

Kyle Shanahan coached the league's leading passer back in 2009 in Houston's Matt Schaub. He coached a quarterback with one of the league's lowest passer ratings last season in Cleveland's Brian Hoyer.

In seven years as an NFL offensive coordinator, Shanahan coached two quarterbacks who have won the Heisman Trophy in Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. He also coached a six-time Pro Bowler in Donovan McNabb.

Now in his first year as the Atlanta Falcons' offensive coordinator, Shanahan gets to work with a player in Matt Ryan who has four consecutive, 4,000-yard passing seasons to his credit.

Ryan continues to impress Shanahan on a daily basis.

"He has all those intangibles," Shanahan said of Ryan. "He's a big guy who is tall in the pocket. The protection doesn't need to be great and he still makes the play. He can make any throw.

"What I've noticed best about Matt is how good he is with his eyes. He manipulates the defense every play. I think I call a play against a coverage that a guy shouldn't be open on, but he is open because Matt looks people off and helps get people open. It makes it a lot easier to call plays."

Shanahan also pointed to Ryan's underrated athleticism.

"We're not going to run the zone read too much, but he's one of the more athletic quarterbacks I've had in terms of his quickness in the pocket and moving around," Shanahan said. "I don't know about his 40 or his making people miss but in the pocket, he's very athletic to me."

Having a quarterback the caliber of Ryan should help Shanahan implement his offense without issue. Not all such transitions have been seamless.

Shanahan spoke about the other quarterbacks he's designed his offense around previously, starting with his first stop:

Matt Schaub (Houston Texans): "Schaub was my first guy that I had. He was extremely accurate and very good at going through a progression. He didn't need very good protection. If you didn't block for him well, he still got rid of it. He was great at not taking sacks. He's a guy I felt comfortable to throw the ball with every time, and I think we led the league in passing and were toward the bottom in rushing. It was because with Schaub, you could do three-step drops and count on it as a pass play because he would get rid of it. I thought Schaub was a very good player at that."

Donovan McNabb (Washington Redskins): :Donovan had an extremely big arm. He could throw the ball down the field far. You had to protect more and make sure those edges weren't short, but there was no receiver who was too deep for him. He let it go, and that was fun to toy around with because he made some big plays."

Rex Grossman (Washington Redskins): "I loved Rex because he was so tough. Rex would hang in there, get the crap knocked out of him every week. He never flinched. He'd hang in there and take all the hits. He didn't mind the pressure on him. He'd let it sling every time. Sometimes, I'd have to tell Rex that he was letting it sling around a little too much and that you might have to take a sack here or throw it away. But the thing I loved about Rex is how much he competed. Every time that he was in the game, I felt like we had a chance. If he was going to throw three picks, I felt like there was a great chance he was going to come back and throw three touchdowns. He was a real fun guy to have."

Robert Griffin III (Washington Redskins): "Robert as a rookie, he was the first time I had to deal with a guy from a different system. He played in a system, with the zone read, that was just different football than in the NFL. I knew he was going to be our guy, so I spent a lot of time really studying and trying to put together an offense that fit him but still fit into our system. That was really fun for me. It was tough at first because I was studying stuff that I wasn't always that into. We got like a 200-play cut-up of every zone-read clip that Cam Newton had, (Tim) Tebow had. We went back to a few that Vince Young had. Even a guy like Tyler Thigpen, who did a few in Kansas City. Then I tried to develop how we could do it. We did it all out of the pistol so we could run the rest of our offense. It was fun to put something together that made sense, but we weren't totally sure if it would work. Once we went through that season, it did work. It was a lot of fun. And we were No. 1 in the NFL in yards per play. We were able to be a top-five rushing team. We had a lot of explosive passes off the play-action. It was a very fun year, and Robert was very good at it. He was uniquely fast and had a big arm. He had world-class speed. The zone read was a track race to the sideline, so it made him special at it.''

Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins): "Kirk's one of the sharper guys I've been around. He processes things so fast. He lets it rip. He's as tough as can be. Like what I said about Rex (Grossman), he'll hang in there and doesn't flinch. Kirk has a chance to be a great quarterback some day."

Brian Hoyer (Cleveland Browns): "Hoyer was very similar to Schaub. He was experienced; great touch and went through his progressions. He was new in the offense. I think if we would have stayed together longer, I think he could have gotten better at it. But Hoyer's a very solid quarterback who I think we'll have a good chance to play at Houston this year."

Johnny Manziel (Cleveland Browns): "Johnny was similar to Robert Griffin III -- different type of athlete, but in terms of where he came from. He came from a college that was very Oregon-like; not as much with zone read, but a lot of quarterback runs, spread-out system and not a lot of pocket play. We had to try and think of things that Johnny could do to make plays, but you've also got to teach him how to play quarterback. There's a fine line. But it was a challenge, just like Robert, just in terms of you've got to let those guys be them. They won Heismans being them. You don't want them coming to the NFL and you saying, 'Hey, you can't be you anymore.' So you've got to try and think of a system that allows them to be them, but still teaches them what they need to do to be successful. The difference with Johnny was, Johnny was quick. He didn't have the speed Robert (Griffin) had, but Johnny could break people off. And that's what his strongest asset was. I never had a guy who could make people miss like that. And the hardest thing, when you make people miss though, you get hit a lot because you're not going to the sideline. You're in between the tackles. That was the challenge with him. Johnny was going to be less designed runs but more scrambles."

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One thing many do not realize is how great Matt is at looking defenders off with his EYES, as Shanny mentioned. It's not something you see live the vast majority of times (sans obvious pump fakes), it takes going back and watching the film.

An example off the top of my head is week 3 vs Bucs when Ryan threw the TD to Julio while we were in the redzone. The play was rather long developing, and the only reason julio was able to free himself in the back corner is because Ryan moved the safety with his eyes by looking like he was going to target Hester on the underneath crossing route. Boom, safety bites and comes down, julio moves in behind him and Ryan hits him with a laser

This could happen so much more often if we can give him time in the pocket like we could before the injuries. I never learned how to make gifs but the above example would be a great one for demonstration

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Great read, but his lack of concern about protection kind of worries me.

I don't like my OC saying "the protection doesn't need to be great". I know what he meant, saying Matt can make plays with poor OL play, but I don't want him conceding that.

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Great read, but his lack of concern about protection kind of worries me.

I don't like my OC saying "the protection doesn't need to be great". I know what he meant, saying Matt can make plays with poor OL play, but I don't want him conceding that.

That'll be the next 'Sacks are overrated."

I love that he mentioned Ryan's underrated athleticism too. I know lots of people were worried about that.

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One thing many do not realize is how great Matt is at looking defenders off with his EYES, as Shanny mentioned. It's not something you see live the vast majority of times (sans obvious pump fakes), it takes going back and watching the film.

An example off the top of my head is week 3 vs Bucs when Ryan threw the TD to Julio while we were in the redzone. The play was rather long developing, and the only reason julio was able to free himself in the back corner is because Ryan moved the safety with his eyes by looking like he was going to target Hester on the underneath crossing route. Boom, safety bites and comes down, julio moves in behind him and Ryan hits him with a laser

This could happen so much more often if we can give him time in the pocket like we could before the injuries. I never learned how to make gifs but the above example would be a great one for demonstration

Ryan can be good at looking people off, however pretty much all of his pick6 plays he stared down his receivers with complete tunnel vision.

Take the good with the bad I guess.

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Ryan can be good at looking people off, however pretty much all of his pick6 plays he stared down his receivers with complete tunnel vision.

Take the good with the bad I guess.

Guess it's one of those things where he does it if he wants to but otherwise eh...who cares
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Actually many of the picks came on miscommunication (largely with Douglas, ex: Pitt game where he was supposed to break his route horizontally but he hesitated and broke more vertically), also the ARI game miscommunication between julio and Ryan, they have to see things the same way and julio would tell you himself he should have broke inside. The pick 6 in CAR game was ugly but when you have an Oline giving up 16+ sacks in 2 games of season finale's you tend to try to make something happen even if it's not there. It's easy to watch it live initially and think it's him staring down (though he did on 2 picks, the lions and packers games)

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Great read, but his lack of concern about protection kind of worries me.

I don't like my OC saying "the protection doesn't need to be great". I know what he meant, saying Matt can make plays with poor OL play, but I don't want him conceding that.

How's that different from saying "the running game doesn't need to be great"? Maybe KS has confidence in his ability to scheme. Edited by bout dat action
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Great read, but his lack of concern about protection kind of worries me.

I don't like my OC saying "the protection doesn't need to be great". I know what he meant, saying Matt can make plays with poor OL play, but I don't want him conceding that.

I don't think Shanny was conceding anything. He was basing his observations on Ryan's film and the OTAs. Ryan made a LOT pf plays under duress the last two years.

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I don't think Shanny was conceding anything. He was basing his observations on Ryan's film and the OTAs. Ryan made a LOT pf plays under duress the last two years.

Absolutely. I just hope this doesn't turn into "well, we can skimp on OL help, because Matt's good at avoiding sacks".

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Nice read...Thanks OP...

Shanny is right about Ryan not needing a great o-line, he does need better than last years mash unit however.....

His numbers are still great with what we all knew was a ragtag line, the D screwed the pooch the last two years....

Hopefully they are improved and can stay healthy this season....

2011 Ryan 61.3 completion percentage, 4,177 yards, 29 TDs, 12 INTs
Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 6

2012 Ryan 68.6 completion percentage, 4,719 yards, 32 TDs, 14 INTs
Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 5

2013 Ryan 67.4 completion percentage, 4,515 yards, 26 TDs, 17 INTs
Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 4

2014 Ryan 66.1 completion percentage, 4,694 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs
Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 7

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How's that different from saying "the running game doesn't need to be great"? Maybe KS has confidence in his ability to scheme.

It isn't, and I don't think you should say that either.

I love the Shanahan hire, don't get me wrong. I just don't like his use of language. I felt the same way with Smitty.

I think conciliatory language can project on the players when their coaches are continuously using it.

I believe that Mike Smith saying "sacks are overrated' very well could have subconsciously affected the play. Language is a big deal,

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Nice read...Thanks OP...

Shanny is right about Ryan not needing a great o-line, he does need better than last years mash unit however.....

His numbers are still great with what we all knew was a ragtag line, the D screwed the pooch the last two years....

Hopefully they are improved and can stay healthy this season....

2011 Ryan 61.3 completion percentage, 4,177 yards, 29 TDs, 12 INTs

Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 6

2012 Ryan 68.6 completion percentage, 4,719 yards, 32 TDs, 14 INTs

Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 5

2013 Ryan 67.4 completion percentage, 4,515 yards, 26 TDs, 17 INTs

Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 4

2014 Ryan 66.1 completion percentage, 4,694 yards, 28 TDs, 14 INTs

Football Outsiders ranked Ryan No. 7

If Ryan can cut down on turnovers we'd be in good shape offensively.

A run game should help Ryan go back to his signature "check down" style of play instead of forcing things.

I miss what a player like Michael Turner could do in their prime.

I'm looking forward to our best season in years.

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I took a look at this past 2 years pick sixes and sorry to say Harry Douglas was involved in many. Koetter loved the read route where the QB and WR see the same thing. Ryan expects HD to break directly in front of the DB and HD would break behind like he was open. The ball is delivered straight to the DB, where HD should be. Nice guy but bad routes. Plus he would sometimes slow down for the ball and the run like blazes and not catch up and everyone said MR overthrew him.

My last critique of our former player.

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If Ryan can cut down on turnovers we'd be in good shape offensively.

A run game should help Ryan go back to his signature "check down" style of play instead of forcing things.

I miss what a player like Michael Turner could do in their prime.

I'm looking forward to our best season in years.

Thats funny because in a way I don't I think Ryan having these TOers to me means he's having a go believing in what he see's now it may not always be right but Brett Farve had the most INT's of any QB you won't hear to many complaints about those.

The key for Ryan and the Falcons is restablishing some balance that will help the TOers.But in know way do I temper Ryan if he see's it I gotta put belief in Ryan that he will makle the play TOer or not.

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I took a look at this past 2 years pick sixes and sorry to say Harry Douglas was involved in many. Koetter loved the read route where the QB and WR see the same thing. Ryan expects HD to break directly in front of the DB and HD would break behind like he was open. The ball is delivered straight to the DB, where HD should be. Nice guy but bad routes. Plus he would sometimes slow down for the ball and the run like blazes and not catch up and everyone said MR overthrew him. My last critique of our former player.

Precisely... And don't get me wrong I really liked HD. He was a solid slot receiver no question who came through for us in 4th quarter drives time and time again 2012, but he's also been responsible for many of the interceptions and miscommunications..

If Ryan can cut down on turnovers we'd be in good shape offensively.

A run game should help Ryan go back to his signature "check down" style of play instead of forcing things.

I miss what a player like Michael Turner could do in their prime.

I'm looking forward to our best season in years.

The offense is going to be predicated on moving the pocket and hitting receivers from new angles.. There will be many less option routes that have lead to numerous interceptions the past couple seasons where the QB and receiver saw two different things. Like you, looking forward to this season immensely

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I think he's overselling Ryan as an athlete a little bit but his ability to get the ball out and throw a guy open is definitely an asset.

I think this should work out pretty well for Matt and the offense. I expect that this offense will be more efficient than the last few offenses.

I don't think he is. I've said it numerous times that Matt is more athletic than ppl give him credit for. I've seen his athleticism plenty of times. It's when he chooses to use it that throws you off because he'd rather stand tall in the pocket. He's not the fastest or the quickest but he's athletic. I've heard players that have pkayed against him say he has that sneaky athleticism that you don't expect.
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I don't think he is. I've said it numerous times that Matt is more athletic than ppl give him credit for. I've seen his athleticism plenty of times. It's when he chooses to use it that throws you off because he'd rather stand tall in the pocket. He's not the fastest or the quickest but he's athletic. I've heard players that have pkayed against him say he has that sneaky athleticism that you don't expect.

Wasn't he pretty good basketball player, too?

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He was being diplomatic. He was being pretty complementary about some pretty underwhelming quarterbacks. He should be thrilled to have Matt, though.

If you work with talent you can see what they have. It's them putting it together that's their problem. But the intangibles he mentioned are there per each qb he mentioned. Most of those guys that you call underwhelming make mental mistakes. Doesnt mean they don't have what shanny says they have. They all have a talent. Matt is a cerebral qb and that's what makes his play at the level it is.
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