FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was not happy about missing the playoffs nor with how the season ended on his weekly radio show on 680 The Fan on Tuesday.
He was interviewed by Steak Shapiro, Brian Finneran and Sandra Golden. (Click here for Rodney Ho’s story on Golden. I shared with our inter JuliaKate Culpepper, who did a great job this season. )
Here are the five things we learned from the show (followed by an edited-for-clarity transcript):
1. FILM REVIEW WAS TOUGH: Ryan watched the film on the Saints game on Monday. He went over what happened on his interception with 1:47 left that led to the Saints game-winning field goal.
2. SUPPORT FOR SHANAHAN: Ryan once again publicly supported offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. He believes there is plenty of room for him to grow in the offense.
3. QB & RECEIVERS CAMP RYAN: Ryan believes that he and the wide receiver need to get together over the offseason to work on the passing attack. In the years past, the Falcons had veteran receivers and didn’t do the Peyton Manning passing camp thing. Ryan believes that type of camp would be beneficial this offseason.
4. VACATION TIME: Ryan is planning to take in some warm weather out West or in Hawaii.
5. MISSING MUD DUCK: Ryan spoke about the issues at centers. He talked about how he had continuity with center Todd McClure. The position has been a revolving door since the Falcons elected to part ways with McClure after the 2012 season.
Here’s what Ryan had to say:
On the end of the season:
“Oh man, just a tough way for the season to end. Especially with how that game shook out. We had a lot of opportunities to finish that game and we didn’t do that…Then the last drive, obviously that’s not the way you want to end. We didn’t finish the way that we’re capable. It’s disappointing. It’s a tough way to go into the offseason. We have a lot of work to do. A lot of improving to do. I think we’ll get that done.”
On his film review of the game:
“Obviously, I thought we did a lot of really good things leading up to that last drive. What happened in the game was, we had a choice route for Devonta where he breaks in and I didn’t see the guy undercutting on the outside. He gets hidden a little bit behind our offensive line. I didn’t see any of that. In that situation you just move on this progression and get somewhere else and give ourselves a chance. It’s tough. Anytime that you’re watching film and it ends ugly, it’s tough to watch.”
On if Devonta Freeman was the first read on the interception play:
On the role of anger, how you approach the offseason:
“It certainly does. There are a lot of different things that you use a motivation. Lots of different things that you need during the course of the offseason to light the fire. To make sure that you are doing everything that you need to do. So, from that standpoint, certainly some of the things that happened during the season, the way it ended this past Sunday, that will be motivation for us moving forward. I think the other thing that becomes great motivation for everyone is that we fell short of our goals. We obviously want to be playing this week and have the opportunity to keep going in the postseason and to win a championship. First and foremost, I think that’s probably what the best and greatest motivation will be.”
On the offense being stalled by turnovers and bad penalties:
“I think we were like tops in the league in terms of red zone turnovers. When you have those, not only are you taking three points off the board for sure, but a lot of those times you’re taking seven points off the board. At the end of the day, scoring points is what matters offensively. When you have opportunities in the red zone to put up touchdowns, we have got to be a lot better. That is something that we will address and will get done….we have a few areas that we really have to clean up. If we do that I feel like we can be a really productive offense.”
On improving in the red zone: (We wrote about how Kyle Shanahan’s offense move between the 20s and stall in the redzone before the season):
“It’s not as simple as we need a different play here or a different protection or whatever it is. It’s not as simple as one thing. We have to take a look at the season as a whole and what we did. Find ourselves a little bit, I think too, from a red zone standpoint of what we are going to be. What we are going to do and hang our hat on those things. Find a couple of staples that are going to be us and let’s make those work.”
On Kyle Shanahan’s playbook:
“That’s for everyone, when you are learning something new and it’s different, at times, there is too much. I think Kyle did a great job as we went through the year of listening to guys, responding to feedback and then also having a better feel of what we were as an offense, too. Of what our guys could do and making a plan to fit that. I thought the last four or five or six weeks, we had good plans. Specifically, the last three weeks I thought we played better offensively and were able to win two of those three games. Disappointed with the last performance in terms of production and in terms of putting points up. I thought we had good plans. I think guys did learn a lot this year. We got better and we learned the offense better.”
On how he supports Shanahan when his system created one of his worst seasons:
“To me, the season from my standpoint, was in consistent because I thought there were a lot of really good things. …I think this last game was a microcosm of our entire year. There was three and half quarters of pretty good play. We missed a couple of opportunities. Penalties and turnovers … and from my standpoint, one really poor play. Those are the things that I’ve got to eliminate. I’m going to be way more comfortable in terms of the scheme as we get another offseason and another training camp and then a whole year worth of experience. I think that will create better play. But I think Kyle did a lot of really good things for us this year.”
On doing some players-only workouts over the offseason for the QBs and WRs:
“I think that is something that we do need to do. For a long time, we’ve been a very veteran team at those positions. Whether if it be at the tight end spot with Tony Gonzalez. Or our wide receivers where we had veteran guys for a long time. I think we are young. Young across the board. I think extra time put in together whether if it be here in Atlanta…so many guys are here during the offseason which is huge for us. Or, whether if it’s getting together somewhere else and spending some time together and working together and trying to iron out the details and be a little bit more refined than we were this past season. I think that’s a really good idea.”
On the center play this season after playing with Todd McClure for the first five season of his career:
“You never realize how much you rely on those guys, especially when you have a guy who was as consistent as Todd. His longevity was awesome. He never missed a game. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find somebody at that spot that can create that kind of longevity that Todd had. Because I think it’s a really important position and critical for the offensive line to have a guy at that spot that runs the show. I thought our guys stepped in and did a nice job all year. Competed really, really hard and played well. But like you said, it would be nice to find a guy that can play for that 10-plus years for the Falcons and be a staple on our offensive line.”
What did Dan Quinn learn during his first season with the Falcons? The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Brian Clark discuss the Falcons’ biggest needs in the offseason.