Jeff Schultz

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Falcons' 35 points, 528 yards should quiet criticism of Shanahan


OAKLAND, Calif. -- This would be a good time to pull a dart out of Kyle Shanahan's picture.

The Falcons' offense failed in the red zone too often in last week's 31-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but that was primarily the byproduct of the Falcons' inability to run the ball and the loss really should be blamed my on a collapsing defense (allowing the Buccaneers touchdowns on three straight possessions and four out of five in the second and third quarters).

In Game 2 against Oakland, it would've been easy to second-guess some of the play-calling early in the red zone when the Falcons twice had to settle for field goals after driving to the Raiders' three- and two-yard lines in the first half. But the Falcons' offense kept the Raiders off-balance all game, scored touchdowns on three straight drives into the red zone in the second half, would have come away with points on seven straight possessions if not for a Matt Ryan interception and totaled 528 yards in offense in a 35-28 win.

The Falcons punted twice in the first quarter. They didn't punt again until there were 10 seconds left in the game.

"We were flowing," said wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, who was one of nine Falcons to make at least one catch and had a key third-down reception for 15 yards to extend a drive in the final minute. "Everybody came up big."

You know who came up big? Shanahan.

He mixed in a fair amount of no-huddle offense, even while seemingly suggesting that it's not going to be a staple of their offense.

"We felt we would speed it up a little bit at times," Quinn said. "It was a hot day, and we knew we would have some [opportunities] for our runs based on the looks that we would have."

As for the team's use of the no-huddle, Quinn said: "Just to clear this up because this has been a big topic of conversation. We do use no huddle. It may not be in the shotgun format where you see it all the time, but often times when we’re under center, we (use) hand signals. We love using it often times within a drive. Some people would think of two-minute as a no huddle but we’re not into that mode."

The Raiders' defense, which albeit is not among the NFL's best, never seemed to know what was coming Sunday.  It certainly has been an impressive start for Ryan this season. In two games, he is 53 for 73 (72.6 percent) for 730 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. The lone pick came in the third quarter when he threw behind a slightly open Jacob Tamme in the end zone when the Falcons trailed 14-13.

Ryan: “I have to throw a better ball. At the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to, giving him a chance to make a play on the ball. I didn’t do that.”

But it was one of his few misfires. The play call was solid. So credit to Shanahan.

For my complete column on the Falcons' win, click here.

Recen t ramblings


Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Jeff Schultz is a general sports columnist and blogger who isn't afraid to share his opinion, which may not necessarily jibe with yours.