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Chalk Talk: Shanahan on Explosive Plays, Hardy

Andrew Hirsh:I was looking over some stats today, and I noticed Matt Ryan is on pace to throw a lot fewer deep passes than normal. Is this a product of the system?

Kyle Shanahan: I think, if you look at it over the years, (deep passing) has been a huge part of the offense. You never know week to week what it's going to be. LAst week we plyed Tampa 2 every single play, so you don't get many deep plays. But the thing I'm happy with is, I think we're in the top four teams in explosive plays (runs of 12-plus yards and passes of 20-plus yards). So we're getting a lot of explosive plays. That doesn't always mean you have to throw it over 40 yards to get that, but when you see the coverages and the opportunities are there, we'll definitely take them.

AH: Justin Hardy did a good job making the most of his opportunities Sunday with a couple receivers hurt. Do you believe he's done enough to establish himself as a guy who can regularly contribute?

KS: He's always shown that he can contribute. There's only so many guys you can get up, so that's something we put together each week on what group of guys and personnel groups, what they can do on special teams. But it's not just about the offense; it's the whole team. I wish we could get every wideout up there every week, so if you ask me, he'd always be up.

AH: Matt Ryan seemed really comfortable throwing to Hardy and has said a lot of good things about the rookie. Is that a product of all the time they've worked together in practice?

KS: No, that's just coverages. Matt doesn't sit and think, "Who do I want to throw to, who do I like the most?" It has to do with who's open. And that has to do with what (the defense) is playing, what coverages they're doing. If it's true man-to-man for everybody, then Matt's probably going to to go Julio. Besides that, we didn't see much man-to-man (against Tampa). It was total zone defense, and you have to attack the zones and see where the defense takes you.

AH: You said at your press conference that you frequently used a certain package with Hardy on the field. Is that the three receiver set?

KS: Yeah. He got in on our three receiver set and he rotated throughout the game with the other guys, also. We had five receivers up, but he was one of our starting three when we went three wides.

AH:When turnovers are an issue, what do you as a coordinator do to help improve ball security? 

KS: You look at everything. I feel strongly that's the reason we've lost two games. I thought we moved the ball last week and did some things as well as we've done all year. But when you have four turnovers, especially three in the red zone, it's extremely tough to win. We have to get that corrected. You look at the reasons for it, and last week it was fumbles. So we try to emphasize everything, look at why it's happening. Everyone has their own reasons, but we just have to clean it up. If we don't, it'll continue to happen. We have to get that fixed.

AH:And those penalties were pretty big, too. KS:Yeah, we had a couple false starts. I think we snapped the ball late on them. You want to eliminate penalties; we weren't very good on penalties—especially the holding calls. They put us in some tough situations, some first and 20s. The thing I was happy with most is we overcame those penalties. We never punted, and we always got first downs off those penalties regardless. We talk about the ball here as much as you possibly can. It's definitely a core philosophy of our program here. We haven't done a good job of it these last few games, and we definitely haven't done a good job of it in our two losses. We know it's tough to win in this league if you turn the ball over. Whether it's stretching, whether it's warming up, whether it's out on the field, or whether it's in the meetings, we're constantly talking about it.

AH:Mike Person has done a good job blocking but has struggled a bit with snapping the ball. How did he react after that fumble Sunday? 

KS: Mike's a pro. He has a lot of pride in what he does; he knows how much those hurt us. One thing I don't doubt about Mike is he's doing everything he can to fix it. It means as much to him as anyone in this building. I know Mike's going to give us his all, and whatever it is, he's going to figure it out.

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