Shanahan in 2016


And then there’s statistics.

What can we expect from Kyle Shanahan’s Offense in 2016? A statistical review.

by Cage contributor, just “little ole” me

This is a look back at how Kyle Shanahan’s offenses have performed over the years in an attempt to predict how the Falcon’s 2016 Offense will perform. This review is based mainly on the stats that the Shanahan led offenses put up over the years. Just remember as Samuel Clemens once said “There are three types of lies, lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

shan-schaubKyle Shanahan’s first job as an Offensive Coordinator came in 2008 when he was promoted by the Houston Texans. At the time that made him the youngest Offensive Coordinator in the NFL. Shanahan spent two years with the Texans before taking the Offensive Coordinator job with the Washington Redskins who at the time was coached by Kyle’s dad Mike Shanahan. Kyle was in Washington from 2010 until 2013 when he and his dad were both fired. The Cleveland Browns hired Kyle to be their Offensive Coordinator in 2014. Kyle resigned from this position at the end of the 2014 season citing the mandate he had been given to start Johnny Manziel. He was then hired by the Atlanta Falcons to be their Offensive Coordinator in 2015.

Let’s first look at Average Points per Game and Average Yards per Game. The table below gives us a side by side comparison of these two stats to help us establish a relationship between the two. With the exception of 2012, there has always been a significant gap between where the offense ranked in each category. Notice that the Average Yards per Game always has a higher ranking than the Points per Game stat. Five of the eight years that Shanahan has been an Offensive Coordinator his offense has been ranked in the top ten in the league in Yards per Game, and three of the eight years they were ranked in the top five. One would think that the ability of an offense to move the ball down the field would result in more points. But, the Average Points per Game stat refutes that assumption. Five of the eight years the offense has ranked 21st or lower in Points per Game and only one year did Shanahan’s offense break the into top five. Those who watched all of the Falcon’s games in 2015 know where this is headed. Failure to score in the Red Zone! No it wasn’t just an issue in 2015. It has always been an issue for Shanahan led offenses since his first year as an Offensive Coordinator. The exception to the rule is 2012. Why was 2012 different? We will look at that in a little later.

Year Team Average Points per Game (Rank) Average Yards per Game (Rank)
2008 Texans 22.9 (17) 382.1 (3)
2009 Texans 24.2 (10) 383.1 (4)
2010 Redskins 18.9 (25) 335.9 (18)
2011 Redskins 18 (26) 336.7 (16)
2012 Redskins 27.2 (4) 383.2 (5)
2013 Redskins 20.9 (23) 369.7 (9)
2014 Browns 18.7 (27) 324.6 (23)
2015 Falcons 21.2 (21) 374.1 (7)

shan-rg3While the stats confirm the failure of the Offense to score in the Red Zone, no prediction for the 2016 Offense has been established. Let’s look at the team that Shanahan coached who had a Quarterback situation closest to that of the 2016 Falcons. The 2008 and 2009 years with Texan’s Quarterback Matt Schaub are the most similar to the 2015 and 2016 Falcons with Matt Ryan. Looking at those two years in Houston there is an increase in Average Yards per Game and Average Points per Game from 2008 to 2009. Based upon the increase that the Texans experienced, there should be an expected similar increase for the Falcons in 2016. Most fans will have serious doubts for any predicted increase in offense and scoring in 2016 based upon how the 2015 offense floundered and from looking at the 2016 schedule. While those are legitimate reasons to doubt, the flip side includes the seasoning of current players in Shanahan’s system and Shanahan’s growth as an Offensive Coordinator. Maybe Shanahan can use some of the magic from 2012 to propel the Falcon’s offense into the top five rankings that were produced in that year.

In the anomaly year of 2012 Shanahan’s offense, led by rookie Robert Griffin III, relied much more heavily on the run than in all his other years as an Offensive Coordinator. Shanahan modified his offense to help protect Griffin from making mistakes in the passing game. The 2012 offense averaged less than 28 pass attempts per game. That was lower than any Shanahan offense before or since. As the chart below shows there are only two other years where Shanahan’s offenses have averaged less than 35 pass attempts per game. The run/pass balance in the chart shows Shanahan’s preference toward the passing game. In 2015 the Falcons had the second highest percentage of pass plays in all of Shanahan’s years of play calling. These stats show that a higher number of pass plays does not always lead to more passing yards. The 2012 season does show that Shanahan is able to adapt his offense, which is a major doubt many fans have after the offensive collapse in 2015.

Year Team Pass Attempts per Game (%) Rushing Attempts per Game (%) Passing Yards per Game (Rank) Rushing Yards per Game (Rank)
2008 Texans 34.7 (56.3%) 27 (43.7%) 266.7 (4) 115.4 (13)
2009 Texans 37.1 (58.2%) 26.6 (41.7) 290.9 (1) 92.2 (30)
2010 Redskins 37.8 (63.3) 21.9(36.7) 244.6 (8) 91.3 (30)
2011 Redskins 36.9 (59.6) 25 (40.4) 235.8 (14) 100.9 (25)
2012 Redskins 27.6 (46%) 32.4 (54%) 213.9 (20) 169.3 (1)
2013 Redskins 38.2 (57.4%) 28.3 (42.6) 234.4 (16) 135.2 (5)
2014 Browns 31.4 (51.3) 29.8 (48.7) 216.6 (20) 108 (17)
2015 Falcons 38.8 (59.7) 26.2 (40.3) 273.7 (6) 100.4 (19)

shan-manzielIs running the ball more often the answer? Falcon’s Running Back Devonta Freeman had a pretty good year in 2015. Freeman had 265 attempts for over 1000 rushing yards, and he was also second on the team in receptions with 73 receptions on 97 targets. That is over 330 times Freeman had the ball in his hands. While those stats earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl, most Backs that play year after year with that many touches also have shorter careers in the NFL. Falcon’s fans can go back to the first few years of the Mike Smith era and see how the team won games by controlling the clock with the running game. Outside of the 2012 season Kyle Shanahan has not used that offensive strategy. There should not be an expectation to see that strategy in 2016. There is another stat from that 2012 season that needs consideration.

Year Team Ints (Rank) Fumbles Lost (Rank)


Texans 20 (2) 12 (8)


Texans 17 (14) 11 (12)


Redskins 19 (11) 12 (10)


Redskins 24 (3) 11 (10)


Redskins 8 (30) 6 (26)


Redskins 19 (10) 15 (2)


Browns 16 (10) 7 (25)


Falcons 17 (8) 13 (3)

shan-ryanThe chart above shows turnovers. Looking at the 2012 season the offense only had a total of 14 turnovers. That is the lowest number of turnovers by a Kyle Shanahan offense. The next lowest is 24 turnovers in the 2014 season. By comparison the 2015 Falcons had 30 turnovers. Shanahan led offenses show a pattern of numerous interceptions and lost fumbles. Those areas should be major coaching points for players, but when a consistent pattern like this is established it can cause skepticism for the future in the fan base. A minor positive point is that there was improvement in the number of interceptions thrown by the Texans from the 2008 to 2009 season. This gives hope that Matt Ryan’s interception numbers will improve in 2016. One quick item of note, current Falcon’s Quarterback Coach Matt LaFleur has been Shanahan’s Quarterback coach since 2008 with the exception of 2014.

To recap, after looking at the stats we have confirmed that the issues the Falcons faced in the Redzone in 2015 seem to have been issues for numerous Shanahan led offenses over the years. With the exception of 2012, Shanahan’s offenses have been pass happy. By indirectly comparing Matt Ryan to the Texan’s Quarterback in 2008 and 2009, Matt Schaub, slight improvement can be expected in the 2016 Falcons Average Points and Yards per Game. There is also hope for improvement in the turnover categories. The biggest concern that these stats raise is the lack of major improvement by offenses coached by Shanahan over multiple years, not including the anomaly year of 2012, which was the only year he changed his offensive balance from pass heavy to run heavy, expect more of the 2015 offense in 2016 and hope that the players improve in their ability to run Shanahan’s offense!


More of a hand on the offense?

Do you agree with the statistical assessment? Why or why not?

Will offensive production in 2016 look more like the first five games of 2015 or like the last eleven?

Can Kyle Shanahan continue to grow as an Offensive Coordinator or has he peaked?

After the floundering of the 2015 offense, have you lost confidence in Shanahan? If so what will you need to see in 2016 to restore that confidence?

Do you think Head Coach Dan Quinn, who is primarily a defensive coach, should increase his input into the offense?

What offensive play did you see in the 2015 games that support the assessment presented?

What offensive play did you see in the 2015 games that refute the assessment presented?

Do you think that the Falcons can make the playoffs and win a Super Bowl in the near future with Kyle Shanahan as the Offensive Coordinator? Why or why not?


529 thoughts on “Shanahan in 2016

  1. Grits Blitz

    Time – Nice “timely” post! Reinforces at least with this FO, it’s “who you know and not what you know”.
    Decisions certainly are not made by being “performance”-driven. (Will things ever change with such a…culture?)

    1. JB Falcon

      So TD must know some really high up people. Maybe Belichick had something on AB and used it to get rid of TD.

  2. SG

    “You are what your record is.” Bill Parcells

    14 winning seasons in 50 years.
    6 winning seasons out of the last 12.
    1 Super Bowl appearance 17 seasons ago.

    So, now what? WTH are we, really?


    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      While it’s the sad truth that the Falcons franchise has, over all, been a miserable failure – I prefer to concentrate on the Arthur Blank “era” as he can’t be liable for Rankin Smith’s (and family) putrid history.

      Arthur Blank purchased the Falcons in February of 2002 from Taylor Smith (Rankin’s son).
      2002 = 9-6-1 won wild card over Packers, lost division playoff Eagles – [Dan Reeves HC]
      2003 = 5-11 – [Dan Reeves fired during season after going 3-10 / Wade Phillips finished season (2-11)]
      2004 = 11-5 won division playoff Rams, lost NFC championship Eagles – [Jim Mora HC]
      2005 = 8-8 [Mora HC]
      2006 = 7-9 [Mora HC]
      2007 = 4-12 [Bobby Petrino HC quits and Emmett Thomas finishes season as HC]
      2008 = 11-5 lost wild card Cardinals – [Mike Smith hired as HC]
      2009 = 9-7 – Mike Smith HC]
      2010 = 13-3 lost division Packers – [Mike smith HC]
      2011 = 10-6 lost wild card Giants – [Mike Smith HC]
      2012 = 13-3 won division Seahawks, lost NFC championship 49’ers – [Mike smith HC]
      2013 = 4-12 – [Mike Smith HC]
      2014 = 6-10 – [Mike smith HC]
      2015 = 8-8 – [Dan Quinn hired as HC]
      2016 = ? – [Dan Quinn HC]
      118 Wins – 105 Losses – 1 Tie – 14 seasons
      2 Wins – 6 Losses = Playoff Record
      * Under Arthur Blank the Falcons have “risen” to mediocrity from the depths of disgraceful

      1. Paddy O

        Mike Smith simply did not adjust to the leagues adjustments to him. the 2008 – 2012 seasons were GREAT Falcons football.

  3. SG

    WTH are we?

    Peerless Price or Leonard Hankerson or Mohamed Sanu?

    Who were those FA guys on D I seem to have forgotten?

    Yeh, I’m a fan. Sell me a PSL.

  4. SG

    I hear those trumpets from the AJC,

    92.9 and the other bought Falcons’ sites.

    Doesn’t mean I listen or buy.

    Too long.

    Clouded pictures, still.

    F’ it.

  5. waynester

    Could be worse–3 of our Front 7 could be on suspension to start the year (Cowgirls…*stifles cruel laughter*)
    Seriously, though– it makes TD’s “filter” look pretty wise avoiding talented head-cases like Hardy, Rolondo McClain(whatever happened to the arson investigation on his mansion in ‘Bama?) etc…..

  6. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Mel Kiper’s top 5 DT’s 2017 Draft
    #5) Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA)
    #4) Charles Walker (Oklahoma)
    #3) Da’Shawn Hand (Alabama)
    #2) Lowell Lotulelei ((Utah)
    #1) Malik McDowell (Michigan State)
    * Still dreaming of my dominating DT – maybe in 2017?

  7. Grits Blitz

    Fountain of Youth Comeback Tour…
    OGs, R.C. Thielman & Bill Fralic, and OT,George Kunz, have all agreed in principle to return and “help T.D. & D.Q. out” at O line for one year – 2016.
    Their agent for all 3 states, “even at their advanced age, they are still better than what presently passes for starting material today on Falcons’ woe line”.
    (Ice spotted at local car dealership smiling, sporting a gold toothpick in his teeth, buying muscle cars for his new unit – “Matt’s Wall Bangers”, and cancels Lloyds of London health insurance policy.)

  8. waynester

    I was over in Winder Ga buying a truck and the place was all a-buzz since many of the Falcons players/coaches had been in getting their “courtesy vehicles”…must be nice–the rich get richer….BTW they had Kirby Smart in there getting his free ride this week, too…..

  9. waynesworldreview

    In my case, “pre-owned” several times over–but I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the Lord for helping me get back on the road again after my old ride hit a quarter-million miles and croaked. It’s still amazing to me how He looks out for us even in mundane things…
    Ya’ll have an awesome day!!!

    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      Amen WWR – God looks after us ignorant fools. I’m the proud owner of a 2003 Toyota Highlander. 250,000 miles was in it’s past but it gets me where I want to go – in the city or in the woods.

  10. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Falcons 1st preseason game August 11th vs the ‘Skins in the Jawja Dome. About 5 weeks away! Can’t wait!!!

  11. SG

    Thanks to John, Benjamin, Thomas, Samuel, Button, William, etal, for delivering the goods in 1776.

    Wishing Cagers one and all, a happy and safe holiday weekend.

    1. Grits Blitz

      SG – Same to you, brother Cager! Glad to know some folks still remember what it’s really all about. Wish they were around today to provide the kind of real leadership this country needs – for the good of the entire country.

  12. Flo-Ri-Duh

    July 4th represents freedom from tyranny thanks to the courage, loyalty and sacrifice of our forefather.

    1. waynesworldreview

      “We have given you a Republic–IF you can keep it…”
      Franklin–when asked about our newly minted government.

  13. Grits Blitz

    Enjoyed watching A Football Life on NFL Network this afternoon about Roger “The Dodger”. He was truly a great QB, leader, a true winner, and even better man.
    Many like Drew Pearson and Hollywood Henderson said they “owe their lives to him”.
    His decency is still in great demand. Glad to know he’s still with us for now.

    Like every WWII veteran, our heroes are passing every day and we are the less without them. Hope all Cagers will appreciate them while we are still blessed to have them in our midst. Happy 4th to you and yours!

    1. falcon21

      Thanks Grits, same to you and yours. Roger Staubach was and still is my hero. I grew up a die hard Cowboys fan. Thanks to Jerry Jones, it all ended!!!

  14. waynesworldreview

    “America is Great because America is Good. If America ceases being Good, She will no longer be Great.”
    original author unknown–attributed to many–quoted repeatedly– sadly Prophetic–still True (IMHO)

    1. SG

      WWR, I agree w/ you, the quote holds true.
      As for the author, it seems that will always remain one of those memorable history mysteries.

  15. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Williamsburg, Virginia is the place to go if you are a U.S. history buff. I walked in the same buildings and on the same land as Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, etc. Truly an awe inspiring experience. Also visited Jamestown which is not far away. I would recommend this trip to everyone that wants to know what our country was built on and wants to know about the architects of our Constitution – which is often trampled on today by our so-called leaders.

  16. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Hawks news – Al Horford agrees to sing with Celtics. Hawks to sign Howard. If you ask me this is a step backwards for the Hawks – rather have Horford as Howard is now around age 30 and often complains of his bad back.

    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      Yeah why they legalized ALL fireworks to these idiots is kind of frightening. Several have already killed themselves with their stupidity.

      1. Paddy O

        that is their problem; the responsible should not be penalized for the irresponsible idiots of the world. “LIBERTY”

        1. Flo-Ri-Duh

          If they want to blow themselves up that’s one thing but what about innocent bystanders? Much like weed smokers getting behind the wheel and killing people. That’s all I’m saying.

          1. Paddy O

            fireworks you buy usually don’t have much power. and, most of these guys do it to themselves on their own property – so, anyone there knows who they are dealing with – or should. Caveat emptor applies to everything.

  17. waynester

    Folks around here have been spending some major $$ on fireworks–for the last 4-5 nights, all night long…hopefully, they’ll get it out of their systems soon (or run out of $$) since it’s driving the animals nuts….

    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      I heard it up til midnight last night and that was only the 3rd. People need instruction on how to handle dynamite before they are allowed to use it. In my youth (about 4 years ago) I brought in fireworks from Alabama where you could buy them legally and set them off – fortunately still have all my fingers. It’s fun when done properly.

  18. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Happy 4th of July to The Cage. Be safe but be happy!!! Going to Macon, Ga. today to meet my son’s new girlfriend for the first time. This may be the one!

  19. Grits Blitz

    How can any QB “prove” their worth if they don’t have a decent, effective O line 1st to “carry the day”?
    Matt still does not have one, contrary to popular belief (that falls under the category of “coaching accountability”), and there was only one Fran Tarkenton who was a master at scrambling for his life with any sustained degree of success.

    Please tell me just what is it that Sanu has “proven” so far? (Still having jet lag from a previous “answer” to our receiving problems…Peerless Price.)
    (At least Mack comes with bona-fide…credentials, if he can stay healthy.)

    1. JB Falcon

      Seems to me that LG and RG are our biggest worries. Mack can only help one of them at a time. Maybe they will discover that plowboy from Podunk U whos is 6’8′”, 375 lbs of solid muscle who benches 650 lbs easily and runs a 5.0 40. I think his last name is Fatchance.

      1. Grits Blitz

        JB – I’m with you and I hope Fats arrives in camp with a “tude to prove”, blows holes in the D line like an exploding 88, and becomes Ice’s personal body guard (as Big Mack’s right or left apprentice brick mason) on “wall” maneuvers.

        (I promise if TD were to locate him, recruit him, and sign him to a long-term ‘tract, I’d be the 1st to eat a platter of crow and agree with TD that he truly is a …genius!)

        1. Grits Blitz

          JB – Fats description sounds a lot like Doug Atkins or Big Daddy Liscomb -only an O line clone, instead of D line.
          (Just think, after a year of creating D line carnage, he could change his name to Manster or Dr. Pain.)

          Does he have a brother? We need him, too!

      2. Chop Buster

        You got it JB! We need to solidify the middle of the line. Happy 4th to the Cage. I’m in my hometown Charleston SC enjoying a little bb-que and Frogmore Stew.

          1. Chop Buster

            LOL…that’s because it originated in a small Lowcountry fishing town in St. Helena Island (named Frogmore); near Beaufort and Hilton Head SC

    2. Flo-Ri-Duh

      Grits – Sanu ain’t no superstar but he’s been in the league a while and he’s better than an injury prone Hankerson – I think. The guard situation isn’t what I’d prefer but they should be better the second year together. We still need a #2 WR which we don’t have and our rookie TE probably won’t be All Pro. I expect marginal improvement and fewer turnovers and penalties in 2016.

  20. Grits Blitz

    Anyone considered the consequences if OC, A. Mack, goes down (early) with injury?
    Since TD/DQ didn’t believe it important to further improve the O line, having invested all 2016 hope riding on Mack’s presence, possible positive influence on other linemen, and potential of continued past performances, seems the backup plan is just return to last year’s inadequate cast of centers if he his hurt.
    Seems DQ better hope with 20-20 vision he can find and coach-up a decent UDFA OC or two during pre-season cause his holdover positional players have already proven they can not get the job done. The Branch best be branching out…

  21. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Absurdly Early Mock Draft: Falcons 2017 – no trades!
    * drafting 16th/1st Rd
    #1 Derek Barnett (DE), Tennessee, 6’3″ 268 lb.- Falcons get their Base DE/Pass Rusher – 20 sacks in 2 seasons & reliable run stopper
    #2 Dan Fenney (G), Indiana, 6’4″ 305 lb. – ESPN 1st team All American allowed 1 sack in 37 games
    #3 Malachi Dupri (WR), LSU, 6’3″ 190 lb. – soph season 39 REC / 6 TD / 602 YD – 4.46 40 time – Finally RW’s replacement
    #4 Eddie Vanderdoes (DT), UCLA, 6’4″ 310 lb. – 5 star recruit & freshman All-American – 12 starts 2014 & Honorable mention all conference
    * Falcons take a chance on a great player recovering from knee surgery in early 2015
    #5 Greg Pyke (G/OT), Georgia, 6’5″ 315 lb. – 3rd Team All-American 2015 as a Jr.
    #6 Calvin Munson (ILB), San Diego State, 6’1″ 238 lb. – immediate depth with skills to eventually start in the NFL
    #7 Jeremy Cutrer (CB), Middle Tennessee, 6’1″ 178 lb. – rated 2nd best Jr college CB originally signed with LSU

  22. JB Falcon

    Speaking of getting the best player available, what if the draft let each team pick all of their picks at one time with the worst team going first and on down? Think about it.

    1. JB Falcon

      I totally agree with this! Flo, you knew I would.
      Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan struggled to get on the same page with receivers last season, at least in part because of his own obstinance. Communication needs to improve. Shanahan is a smart guy, but if he’s not more open to accepting ideas the offense will struggle.

  23. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Gil Brandt says the Falcons got excellent value in Julio Jones for the six draft picks they gave up to get him-including two 1st round picks. After all, JJ was just named one of the top 10 talents in the NFL by his peers. Brandt went on to point out that the Browns didn’t get much in the draft with the picks they got from the Falcons trade for JJ. In fact they failed miserably on ALL of their picks. I “almost” agree. It all depends on who TD/MS would have gotten if they had kept the picks instead of trading them away. Considering TD & Co would have been in charge they probably were better off getting an obvious talent in JJ. IF THEY HAD BETTER SUCCESS IN THE DRAFTS FOLLOWING JJ THEN WE WOULDN’T BE COMPLAINING.


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