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Chalk Talk: Shanahan Reflects On 2015 Season


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Andrew Hirsh: So, that Julio catch. What was your reaction when you saw him jump over Luke Kuechly and run into the end zone?

Kyle Shanahan: It was as good of a feeling as I've had in sports. I've seen some good plays, and it's right up there, but more than anything it was the timing of it. We really needed it. We haven't scored a big play like that in a long time. Being able to run one in from outside the red zone, and to make that play at that time in the game was huge. Everyone knows how good Julio is, but he's at his best when we need him to be his best. And same with our quarterback. That's one of the main reasons we were able to win that game.

AH: A few months ago, you predicted that a wideout will one day reach 2,000 receiving yards in a season. Do you think Julio could have pulled it off if he stayed healthy all year?

KS: Yeah, possibly. It all depends on coverages. You never want to go into a game and force a guy a ball. I think we've done a pretty good job with that this year. We're very rarely throwing into double coverage; we try to move him around so he doesn't get double-teamed. But it all depends on how people play him. The more times you can take double coverage off him, when you have a guy who's that good, you can go to him all the time. It comes down to how people play him and your other weapons on the field.

In the right scenario, a guy can get there, but you hope it doesn't happen, because you'd like to spread it around and be a little bit more balanced. But if we were committed to get him 2,000 yards, I mean, Julio can do that. That isn't necessarily a good thing, though, when it comes to wins and losses.

AH: When you go over the tape from that game, do you think to yourself, "Man, this is what we should have played like all season"?

KS: Yeah. That's always the goal. We showed it more at the beginning of the year and the last two weeks. I always want us to stay balanced, and it's sometimes easier said than done. Usually when you can stay balanced, you don't put the pressure on any one posisiton. It allows everyone to play together. We've been able to do that the last couple weeks. It's easy to do it when you're running all over people, but I've been real impressed with our players as we've been able to do it without that. We've got the tough yards in the run game; we've made people commit to stopping the run. So you don't always get those yards in the run game, but by getting those carries, it allows you get some big plays in other places. What's allowed us to do this is how good our quarterback's been.

AH: Coach Quinn mentioned today that Gino Gradkowski is giving Mike Person some competition at center. What can Gradkowski bring to the table in Week 17?

KS: Mike's done a real good job blocking for us this year. He's done a **** of a job at center, but he's just made too many mistakes with the ball on the ground. It came to hurt us last week, so that was the main thing with Mike. Gino has a lot of experience snapping the ball, so we're letting them compete this week. We know Gino has played center a lot more than Mike. I think Mike can be more consistent with the snapping, but there's still competition.

AH: A few weeks ago, Quinn said D.J. Tialavea was a practice squad player who's taken big strides this year. What do you expect from him now that he's been called up to the 53-man roster?

KS: D.J. has been a very solid tight end for us. He's a very good blocker; he's a big guy who comes off the ball hard and really helps in the run game, and he's serviceable in the pass game. If it ends up working out for D.J. this week, I fully trust him. He did some good things for us in the preseason before he got injured. He's a guy who will compete, help out in the run game and do his job in the pass game.

AH: The slate is wiped clean every year, but do you still think it helps in the grand scheme of things to finish at 9-7 instead of 8-8?

KS: It's important. When you lose six games in a row, it's as tough as anything you can go through in this league. It's human nature to go separate ways when that happens. And to be able to come out of that and pull these two (wins) off—we got the monkey off our back. The game in Jacksonville and the one against Carolina gives you some momentum and gets guys on the same page. To be able to finish strong makes for a more fun offseason.

AH: What did the big losing streak teach you about this team?

KS: You find out a lot about people. You never really know who someone is until you seem them handle adversity. You seem someone's true colors when they go through that, and I think we have a lot of strong guys on this team. That's what I did like about it: Even though it was hard for all of us, we stuck together and you can see that we've got some good people, some good character in this building. I think the players we have, these coaches will continue to look to improve. I'm very excited about this team going forward.

AH: Now that your first year in Atlanta is almost over, how would you evaluate yourself in 2015?

KS: I'm definitely disappointed with how the year went. I had higher expectations for us. We came out doing it right, but you know that six-game losing streak hurt. I hurt a lot—especially when you're not scoring enough points. So I was very disappointed in that. I know we can do a lot better, and I know we will. That's the one thing I'm excited about for next season.

http://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/blog/article-1/Chalk-Talk-Shanahan-Reflects-on-2015-Season/2a1a4efb-9e9d-45fc-913e-56bdb64bbbec

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It's gonna be quiet on the "Kyle is a stupid, egotistical maniac of an OC who never learns because he's too stubborn and focused on forcing the ball to Julio".

Kyle learned a lot this season about himself and this roster. I think he knows he struggled but the players struggled too. It's not solely Kyle. They stuck it out and figured it out. One thing a lot of people ignore is the players collectively struggled to grasp the playbook. Matt and Roddy both did. Julio said it himself with Roddy when talking about this last game.

Now that they understand the playbook and how to work with each other, a better interior OL and WR corps should only make this offense click quicker and be more potent next year.

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It's gonna be quiet on the "Kyle is a stupid, egotistical maniac of an OC who never learns because he's too stubborn and focused on forcing the ball to Julio".

Kyle learned a lot this season about himself and this roster. I think he knows he struggled but the players struggled too. It's not solely Kyle. They stuck it out and figured it out. One thing a lot of people ignore is the players collectively struggled to grasp the playbook. Matt and Roddy both did. Julio said it himself with Roddy when talking about this last game.

Now that they understand the playbook and how to work with each other, a better interior OL and WR corps should only make this offense click quicker and be more potent next year.

I agree with everything you said. The problems were across the board and collectively really hurt us, but we see now that eveyone has a better understanding of each other including coaches and players, and now that less mistakes are being made, we showed we can move the ball against a very good defense and even better, showed we could beat the best team in the NFL. Next is plugging a couple of gaping holes on offense and we could go from capable to dominating by next year.
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To be fair to Shanahan, there's only one game this season where the offense couldn't "do anything," and that was @Panthers. We didn't score a lot in our 6 game lull, but that wasn't because we couldn't drive the ball. We were moving the ball every game, efficiently I might add. But there would always be some dumb mistake, by Ryan, Coleman, or Person, that would undo nearly every drive in the end. The same cannot be said for Koetter. There were several times last year that I remember us not being to move the ball at all. We'd just have 3 & outs all game, except for maybe one drive. Kyle's offense was able to move the ball pretty much every game. I'm not against having Kyle on board for one more year to redeem himself, to prove that it was truly on the players and not on the play calling.

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I agree with everything you said. The problems were across the board and collectively really hurt us, but we see now that eveyone has a better understanding of each other including coaches and players, and now that less mistakes are being made, we showed we can move the ball against a very good defense and even better, showed we could beat the best team in the NFL. Next is plugging a couple of gaping holes on offense and we could go from capable to dominating by next year.

It was an ugly year, but it will probably be the best thing long term. Like Kyle said, they all saw each other's true colors during that losing streak, especially during that Panthers game. But that's what I was saying needed to happen during Smitty's regime early on to show the true nature of this roster and the flaws of the entire team so they can be fixed. It needed to happen early while expectations were low. This season showed we had a lot of work to do to get back to being a perennial playoff team again and we know exactly what that is.

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KS: Yeah, possibly. It all depends on coverages. You never want to go into a game and force a guy a ball. I think we've done a pretty good job with that this year. We're very rarely throwing into double coverage; we try to move him around so he doesn't get double-teamed. But it all depends on how people play him. The more times you can take double coverage off him, when you have a guy who's that good, you can go to him all the time. It comes down to how people play him and your other weapons on the field.

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As far as coaching interviews go. Kyle said some real stuff here.

He really did. It's very rare to see coaches be this straightforwards. Makes me think that he just might not be quite as egotistical as he comes off.

Just as there is a learning curve for players to learn a new coordinator's system, there is a learning curve for a coach to learn his players and how to properly incorporate them into their system.

It gives me a lot of hope for next season. We know that when Shanahan's system works, it really works well. And we also have almost all of the major components necessary for a monster offense. We have a top ten QB any day of the week, a beastly running back (not to mention a rookie backup that has shown some serious flashes), the best WR in the NFL, a very serviceable veteran TE, and two really excellent tackles. Things could be a helluva lot worse.

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KS: Yeah, possibly. It all depends on coverages. You never want to go into a game and force a guy a ball. I think we've done a pretty good job with that this year. We're very rarely throwing into double coverage; we try to move him around so he doesn't get double-teamed. But it all depends on how people play him. The more times you can take double coverage off him, when you have a guy who's that good, you can go to him all the time. It comes down to how people play him and your other weapons on the field.

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vince.gif

Yea I thought that was pretty transparent. But kinda true, he did rarely force the ball to a double covered Julio, but he frequently frced it to a TRIPLE covered Julio.

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People talk like it is ok to have wasted a year of Julio and Matt's prime (with Roddy still around) to learn this playbook. The only way that is ok is if we win a SuperBowl in the very near future and even then we never know what could have been this year. Why so complicated? Why should a player have to learn something totally different? It is not like our offense was totally broken and we had no talent. Who says we are over the hump on them learning it? Also, learning it isn't the only issue. Rolling Matt left to throw across his body, 4 and 1 and an empty backfield, ignoring Roddy, and naked bootlegs are all issues from Shanahan that are head scratchers that really cost us. I am bitter about this year and what should have been with this easy schedule.

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Hope he's learned something for his sake & ours if he's here next year. I don't think he's anything special & he's pretty predictable in his play calling, Koetter beat him like a drum twice. The offense will succeed with or without him & there are plenty of other OCs with less baggage & less drama.

With all that said consistency is key. If the offense has made it through the learning curve of his playbook & execute it next year, that will be a better sample of his skills as an OC, assuming the Falcons fix the OL this off season.

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