Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

Suddenly, Ryan, Shanahan look like good fit


There has been so much talk this week around the Falcons Flowery Branch home about “relationships” that I believe the Hallmark Channel may be airing Sunday’s game at Denver.

Dan Quinn, medicine man, er, head coach:

“Through the off-season, that’s where a lot of the chemistry between two people come. Over months and months of working through ‘I like this’ and ‘This, I’m not so comfortable with’ on both sides.

“Like most relationships, communication is at the forefront of it.”

Matt Ryan, NFL’s quarterback leader through four games:

“Last year we did some really, really good things. We had a lot of success. Then we had some things go not so well. In both those situations you learn a lot about each other and you learn what’s best for us to have a winning working relationship. I think that’s what we’ve worked on hard all off-season.

Kyle Shanahan, formerly embattled offensive coordinator, now looking like a sage:

“Like any relationship with any human being, the more you’re with someone the better it gets. Unless you’re in a bad relationship, then the worse it gets.”

This all stemmed from the idea that given the Falcons prodigious offensive output so far this season that Ryan and his OC must have decided to try to make their relationship work, for the sake of the kids.

When it all went south for the Falcons last year – and the normally efficient Ryan began looking all discombobulated, especially in sight of the goalline – there was much rightful worry about how he and Shanahan were getting along in the first year of their professional marriage. The first year is so often the most difficult.

Shanahan remains puzzled by a couple of the controversies circling his head. “The (suppositions about a strained) relationship with Matt is almost as confusing to me as with no-huddle. I’ve had a great relationship with Matt since I got here,” he said. And the Falcons offense does seem to be operating with a bit more pace lately, too.

We are told that the relationship between quarterback and coordinator has inevitably improved over the natural course of time. On the practice field they say they have come to understand each other’s plusses, minuses and quirks. And what can’t be solved there can be negotiated, as any good Irish fellows should, over a couple pints.

Well, we have seen the Falcons go on quite a merry romp through four games, with Ryan and Shanahan in synch, utilizing a NASCAR garage worth of tools. Is it a reflection of a more blissful understanding between the two? We, watching this union from a distance, can only assume that yes, there has been some significant growth on both sides.

No need to draw up the separation papers just yet.

Ah, but as in any relationship, the road traveled by the quarterback and his offensive coordinator is forever filled with ruts and potholes and sixpenny nails. Especially when that road now passes through Denver and Seattle.


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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.