Ex-Falcons GM Recalls Matt Ryan-Kyle Shanahan Drama

Matt Ryan kyle shanahan

Getty Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers talks to Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons.

Kyle Shanahan was in charge of the infamous 2016 Atlanta Falcons team that surrendered a 25-point third-quarter lead in Super Bowl LI to the Patriots, which ultimately led to a 34-28 overtime loss.

A lot has changed between now and then, except for the fact that Shanahan has yet to find a way to win a Super Bowl.

Former Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff took fans back to Shanahan circa 2015, during an appearance on the Pass It Down podcast with Michael Silver when Shanahan and Matt Ryan were struggling with their player-coach relationship.

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Shanahan Had a Rough First Season in Atlanta

2015 was Shanahan’s first season as the Falcons offensive coordinator. Atlanta went 5-0 to start the season but then lost six consecutive games which didn’t sit well with Ryan or Shanahan off of the field.

“You’ve got two competitive guys and Kyle is very competitive, and Matt is very competitive,” Dimitroff explained. “This is different. I always thought this was different because Kyle comes in at a very different age and a very different presence than Mike Mularkey and Dirk Koetter. So, all of a sudden you have guys that are closer in age, and Matt’s growing in all of this. He’s feeling a lot more like, ‘Hey, I’m done holding back what I need to share.’ And I would say the same thing.

“That was very important for Matt as he led and grew, he needed to stand up and take inventory and speak his mind. He wasn’t getting fired, we knew that. So, I thought that was a really interesting crossroad for Matt, that he was ready to talk about what was on his mind.”

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Matt Ryan’s MVP Season Was Under Shanahan

Following the 2015 season, Ryan and Shanahan met up in Southern California for a “clear the air session” over a few brewskis.

“We just worked it out over a couple of beers,” Ryan told Silver in 2016. “Last year was overblown, but we basically sat there and figured out some things. He learned what works for me, and I learned what works for him, and it was that simple. And we’re in a really, really good place now.”

Despite a disastrous, Super Bowl, Matt Ryan had his best season yet in 2016, winning MVP while completing 69.9 percent of his passes for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.

For Shanahan and Ryan, it came to communication, according to

“After the season they realized, let’s step back here and let’s see how we’re going to approach this both individually and together. The idea of both of them working on their own stuff and then coming together and working and spending time out in Southern California––those were really important things for them. They came back, they had a really good understanding of each other in my mind. They knew how important it was for both of them to have very clear communication between each other regularly.”

Once again, Ryan will have to learn to adjust and build a relationship with his OC as he will be working with a new offensive coordinator Dave Ragone, along with head coach Arthur Smith, who will be calling the plays.



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