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Chalk Talk: Shanahan Happy With Progress

Andrew Hirsh:Matt Ryan finished with a perfect passer rating on Monday when he targeted Julio Jones. Is that even a little surprising at this point?

Kyle Shanahan: No. Matt's a pretty accurate thrower, and he usually doesn't force things when people are doubled. A lot of plays go to Julio, so when the coverage is good, I expect Matt to get it there. And he did.

AH: It seemed like you did a good job moving Julio around to different spots on the formation. How did that help him against Philly?

KS: It's something we do with all our receivers—not just him, everybody. It helps him get off the bump, makes it harder for defense to know where he always is. It makes it harder to roll coverage to him and have a specific plan for one guy.

AH: The play-action was real effective for you guys, especially on throws over the middle. It seemed like you were able to neutralize the inside linebacker on those plays and ensure single coverage. Was that a big part of the game plan going into the opener?

KS: It always is for us. We believe in running the ball and if you're going to run the ball, whether you're doing well or not, you better have some stuff off of it—whether it's bootlegs, or play passing. Usually the defense commits to one and it opens up the other.


The Atlanta Falcons hosted Ryan Courtemanche, from Make-A-Wish on Sept. 13 and Sept. 14. His wish was to play with the Falcons and meet Matt Ryan. He also served as Honorary Captain for the Monday night game vs. the Eagles.

AH:** The play-action worked well because of Tevin Coleman, who got 20 carries. That's pretty close to a typical feature back workload. Should we expect a similar workload for him moving forward?

KS: I don't know. It's actually something I never stress or think about. I feel very fortunate. I feel like we have two really good backs. Also I have a lot of trust in Ward. I think all of them can do it. It really doesn't matter to me who's in because I think we've got some good ones. It could be different every week. You just see how the game plays out.

AH: It was interesting to see Mike Person and Andy Levitre adjust to new roles. Obviously they weren't perfect, but I think it's fair to say the O-line held up better than most expected. What do those two have to do to keep getting better?

KS: Well, you never stay the same. You get better or worse. I thought they did a good job. They worked hard all week—especially Levitre not being here long. Person had been going back and forth between both guards and center and finally isolated the center position the last 10 days. I thought both of them had a real good game. I know it's not going to be the same this week so I hope they get better.

AH: I thought Jake Matthews looked real good next to Levitre and really stabilized the left side of the line. I also noticed his technique was sound, which tells me his back is probably healthy. Would you agree?

KS: Definitely. I thought Jake played well. He was solid and did a good job for us. It seemed like he had no problems. I was happy with how he played.

AH: Sticking with the O-line, Jake Long is someone the fans are really anxious to see. What do you think he can bring to the Falcons this year?

KS: I've been a fan of Jake his whole career like most people have. He's been a very good, productive player in this league. Just to get him in here, not only because he's a big guy who can pass protect and run block, but because of the type of person he is. Football very important to him; he's a professional who knows how to prepare. We hope that can rub off on some other guys.

AH: Last week you mentioned offensive linemen are asked to run a lot in this system. Do you think Long can keep up after tearing an ACL twice?

KS: Yeah, I think so. It's just about being in shape. No O-lineman is that fast, so it's about being in shape and being able to run for four quarters. It's about wearing people down. We plan on running just as much in the fourth as we do coming out.


After coming off a win against the Eagles in Week 1, the Falcons are already working to improve as they prepare to face the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Check out these photos from practice this week.

AH:** Shifting over to the Giants, defensive tackle Jonathan Hankins is a real talented player who doesn't get much attention in New York. How do you neutralize a run-stopper as good as him?

KS: He's an issue. We had guys like that last week like Fletcher Cox. They have great guys this week. There's not as many big names there, but they've got some good players. Some guys who can rush the passer, some guys who are big inside who can stop the run. The key is you have to always keep them off balance. It makes it real tough on us. It'll be a challange for us on Sunday.

AH: When we talked to the players earlier today, it was clear they think highly of the Giants' cornerbacks. What are your thoughts on their CBs?

KS: I've got a lot of respect for both Prince (Amukamara) and (Dominique Rodgers-) Cromartie. I've played against them a bunch. Prince has gotten better every year since being a first round pick and I think he's as good as anyone. Cromarite can be scary. He's very fast, he has good hands. If you're wrong on him, or you're late on him, it's usually six points the other way.

AH: In addition to Hankins and the corners, what other unique challenges does the Giants' defense present?

KS: Just going against (Steve Spagnulolo) over the years—he does a bunch of stuff. You don't know what type of game it's going to be. He can do a little bit of everything in his scheme. They have guys who play hard; with coach Coughlin, you know they're going to give us their best shot. Schematically, it's tough.

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