The Falcons offense finished 2014 ranking fifth in the NFL in passing, averaging 284.6 yards per game. Enter new Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who when thinking about how to maximize the weapons of his team's offense, already had somebody in mind.
"Fortunately for me, I was able to get connected with Kyle Shanahan," Quinn said. "The way he can attack on offense, he is one of the hardest guys to coach against from a defensive standpoint, so whenever you are on the defensive side and you're looking at the other guys, in the back of your mind, you say 'Okay, what is the system, who are the people that are so unique, so hard to go against', and Kyle was always somebody that I thought of in that way."
Prior to being hired as the Falcons offensive coordinator, Shanahan had only spoke with Quinn over the phone. During the last year, however, the two discussed partnering up as a head coach-OC combo if and when the opportunity presented itself. That day came February 3rd and since then, Shanahan, like the rest of the Falcons coaches, began studying game film of the team's current roster.
Known for his innovative style as an offensive coach, Shanahan is very quick to turn the attention and praise he receives to his players, admitting his job is finding out what the players do well and putting them in situations to thrive.
Matt Ryan just happens to be one of those players, serving as the team's face of the franchise since 2008. Described by many analysts, coaches and players as an elite signal-caller, Ryan's command of an offense and his ability to run when needed are just a few reasons Shanahan is ready for practice to start as soon as possible.
"I'd be lying if I said it (having Ryan) didn't (boost my confidence)," Shanahan said. "There are a lot of good quarterbacks on this planet, but, there's probably only five, maybe eight, in a given year that people aren't trying to replace, so, it's an extremely tough position."
The last game Ryan played in served as his third-career Pro Bowl, starring for Team Irvin, including a two-touchdown performance in a 32-28 win over Team Carter. The cool, calm composure of "Matty Ice" benefits Shanahan and the entire Falcons offense.
"Everybody wants that franchise guy and to already be in a situation where they have that, it is very enjoyable, because you can focus on other things," Shanahan said. "You can focus on other positions. It makes things easier for the other positions, and it always makes it easier to coach, too."