Is OC Kyle Shanahan the REAL ISSUE Here?
Special Guest Writer: Roddy E. Nixon, Jr. AKA Seminole Warrior
“If everyone’s thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” General George Patton
Offensively, our Atlanta Falcons, is troubling at times to watch. But let me ask you a simple question? What did you REALLY expect?
This team is EXACTLY what many of us thought it was. Average at best with an array of issues that require significant attention. Many want to lay the blame at the feet of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. The Tee Pee is not included among those. I hear you; what the hell is wrong with you, SW? Have you seen this offense lately? Yes, I have. And I know what is missing from this offense. And I know the reason why?
First, the WCO scheme, in order to be MOST effective, requires a smart, versatile quarterback that can get accurate in the short to intermediate passing game. MR2 is that man. He gives us the versatility to react to the play coming in from the sideline OR if need, call a play quickly on his own. It is that passing dynamic that actually ENHANCES the rushing attack.
Second, the WCO scheme requires a dynamic running back; one that is talented at hitting the seams quickly, one that possesses quick cut abilities, and also serves as an invaluable receiving asset. It also requires a larger, complimentary back that can run with power, block effectively, and like the smaller back, be an effective receiver coming out of the backfield. This person can be a “third-down” specialist or perhaps, a fullback. The Falcons have all these components. Freeman is the better running back with Coleman as his understudy; the underrated Patrick DiMarco is the fullback.
Third, WCO themed wide receivers and tight ends must have excellent hands, be extremely adept to making catching in traffic, and running very reliable routes. They focus on the short to intermediate routes as to loosen up a defense and tire them out early due to the need to react much quicker to the rapid evolution of the offensive play. Julio Jones, Justin Hardy, and Jacob Tamme easily fill these roles.
Fourth, WCO themed schemes make maximum use of effective zone blocking techniques. An effective ZBS offensive line requires quality scouting and coaching. The emphasis with ZBS linemen is on their mobility, their techniques, and their versatility.
Under Kyle Shanahan (age 35) and offensive line coach Chris Morgan (age 36), the Falcons have attempted to make the switch to zone blocking. This is Morgan’s FIRST gig as a full time LEAD dog on the offensive line. At prior stops, Washington and Seattle, Morgan worked with experienced OL coaches and had MUCH better talent to work with. And remember that Kyle too is still emerging from considerable shadows. THESE POINTS ARE CRITICAL to note, friends.
Remember that both men INHERITED the previous regime’s remains; a group that had FAILED in attempts at both power and zone blocking schemes. Recall that strength, conditioning, experience, and overall talent was significantly lacking; recall with me that, just like this season, Atlanta’s undersized linemen were CONSISTENTLY being overpowered by opposing defensive linemen. The running game, just like what we saw last week by the Bay, became almost non-existent and was especially ineffective in goal-line/short yardage situations. And our passing attack was limited as the QB was subjected to relentless pressure too often resulting in sacks, interceptions, and busted plays. YOU HAVE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE, friends.
With all that now a matter of record, let me ask the following questions?
Why has the Atlanta offensive line been neglected for so long in your opinion given the substantial investment made on that side of the team (Ryan, Jones)?
After being pounded for the last two years, has Matt Ryan finally become fearful behind his offensive line? Could that fear be the reason for his unsteady play of late?
Why has Arthur Blank chosen to give TD and his key staff pass after pass only to have the same failures emerge each of the last three years?
If Arthur Blank retains TD and his front office team in 2016, do we really expect anything from them given the limited draft picks and the poor free agency record?
Is offensive line a MAJOR draft priority that requires at least two-three picks of our current draft allotment?
If most fans get their way and Shanahan is fired after one year, who should the Mighty Quinn turn to as his new offensive coordinator?
If Chris Morgan is scape-goated like the previous three OL coaches, who should the Mighty Quinn turn to fill that role?