17 years in Atlanta has taught me one thing, and that is when fans turn on someone, they will typically stay against that person until he/she is no longer in town.
Gregg Knapp felt the wrath when he was unable to tailor his offense to fit Michael Vick and get the Falcons to the Super Bowl. The Atlanta Spirit Group was subjected to the same thing, and in 2015 Matt Ryan was not the franchise QB that everyone wanted him to be. Matt was bashed by everyone not associated with the team. Some of the criticism was, well, warranted, and some of it was a little bit over the top. Either way, Matt Ryan must improve in 2016 or the fire will be so hot that he will need a flame retardant suit.
This brings me to a guy who may give Ryan a reprieve, and his name is Kyle Shanahan!
Last week beloved Falcons WR Roddy White was cut by the team, in what was believed to be a cap saving move, and when you judge the move solely based on the fact that Roddy is a 34-year-old WR coming off his worst season, the move made sense.
Then Roddy spoke with Vaughn McClure from ESPN openly about the move over the weekend, which fired up Falcons fans everywhere.
Roddy was quoted in the article with Vaughn McClure…
“No it wasn’t, besides the things [Shanahan] was doing in making six variations to one route,” White said. “It was just episodes throughout the game where I think he mismanaged things and screwed up and we didn’t have the opportunity to win the game, which, I thought, was on him as the offensive coordinator. It wasn’t sound football, but it was things that he was used to doing and things we weren’t used to doing as an offense, and it literally cost us like two games.”
This was a pipe bomb, a la CM Punk on Monday Night Raw. Roddy put the blame on Coach Shanahan for at least 2 losses. 2 losses was the difference between the playoffs and being at home in January. 2 losses was the difference between Matt Ryan getting a pass for this past season, or not. 2 losses was the difference between Dan Quinn’s success year one, or not.
This quote also draws the line in the sand, beloved former WR, and beleaguered OC.
Falcons fans are angry, and rightly so. Are they now to believe that the team chose Shanahan over White?
The problem for Shanahan is more than just lack of public support. The problem is his offense struggled in the last half of the season, and is largely to blame for the team missing the playoffs. They scored less than 24 points in the last 10 games of the year, which on a team with Matt, Julio, Devonta, Roddy, etc is unacceptable.
This off-season will be about fixing a lot of things that kept Atlanta out of the playoffs, but none will be bigger that getting Kyle Shanahan on the same page with his players.
Is Kyle Shanahan public enemy number 1? Until proven otherwise the answer is pretty simple… Yes He Is!