Matt Ryan says new offense was too much at times, as expected

Matt Ryan had 21 TD passes and 16 interceptions this season as the Falcons missed the playoffs for the third straight time. AP Photo/Bob Leverone

Some folks cringed when word of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan being overwhelmed by Kyle Shanahan's offense circulated.

It wasn't a tale. It was a reality.

But it was nothing less than expected with the adjustment to a new offensive scheme. Ryan made that clear during his weekly radio show appearance Tuesday on 680 the Fan.

"I think that's for everyone, when you're learning something new and it's different, at times there's is too much, right?" Ryan said. "I think Kyle did a great job as we went through the year of listening to guys, of responding to feedback, and then also having a better feel for what we were as an offense, too, of what our guys could do, and making a plan to fit that. And I thought the last four, five, or six weeks, we had good plans. Specifically the last three weeks, I thought we played better offensively and were able to win two of those three games."

As previously reported, Shanahan scaled back the playbook after the Tennessee game (Week 7). Such didn't necessarily translate into success, however, as turnovers plagued the Falcons and they went through a six-game losing streak. Shanahan also got away from the desired pass-run balance, something he expressed regret about. Then more aspects were reincorporated into the playbook during a 23-17 win against Jacksonville in Week 15.

Veteran receiver Roddy White knew the offense would be an adjustment for everyone despite a 5-0 start. He scoffed at the notion that intellect played a part in anyone, including Ryan, struggling to adjust to Shanahan's scheme.

"It has nothing to do with how smart you are," White told ESPN.com. "People don't know how fast you get a play call in, and all this happens in 15 seconds. You get the play in, you give it to the offense, you check, read routes, runs. You might have to check this at the line of scrimmage to get the protection right. Then you snap the ball, you read the coverage, and then you get rid of the ball.

"To formulate all that in 15 seconds, it's hard doing it in an offense that (Ryan) was in for six, seven years. So to bring change to him and have something brand new, and he has to go through the progressions, it's tough on him."

The Falcons made it tougher on themselves with 30 turnovers. Ryan had 16 interceptions and five lost fumbles, and five of those interceptions came on plays starting from the opponents' 20-yard line or closer. Running back Devonta Freeman fumbled on first-and-goal from the 3-yard line in the season finale, and fellow running back Tevin Coleman fumbled the ball away at the Saints' 9-yard line in Week 6 loss at New Orleans. Not to mention center Mike Person's bad snap on second-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 4-yard line that resulted in a turnover during a 23-20 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 8.

The season ended with Ryan throwing an interception to New Orleans safety Jamarca Sanford in traffic at the Falcons' 28-yard line. The ball was intended for Freeman, who did not run a good route. Still, Ryan should have progressed to Julio Jones. Sanford said he knew the angle route was coming. The Saints won the game, 20-17.

"I didn't see the guy undercutting on the outside," Ryan reiterated Tuesday. "He gets hidden a little bit behind our offensive line. ... In that situation, just move on in the progression and get somewhere else.

"Anytime you watch the film and it ends ugly, it's tough to watch."

Ryan wants to move on from a disappointing, 8-8 season. He did not perform up to expectation, but believes he'll be better with another year working alongside Shanahan.

"Certainly some of the plays that happened during the season, the way it ended this past Sunday, that will be motivation for us moving forward," Ryan said. "I think the other thing that becomes great motivation for everyone is that we fell short of our goals. We obviously want to be playing this week and have the opportunity to keep going in the postseason and win a championship. And first and foremost, that's probably what the best and greatest motivation for me will be."

Ryan, who just completed his eighth NFL season, has a 1-4 record in five playoff games. The Falcons have missed the postseason the past three seasons.