Blame Only Shanahan... It Takes a Village to Choke Away a Super Bowl

Mike Bell
February 05, 2020 - 1:41 pm
Kyle Shanahan

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


I couldn't believe all the venom Falcons fans were directing toward Kyle Shanahan leading up to the Super Bowl. All those wanting to see the architect of our 2016 success (and ultimate failure) take it in the shorts got their wish.

To me that's the ultimate lazy take. 

He sure pulled some boneheaded moves in Super Bowl 54, I'll give you that. Not using his timeouts before the half and playing it ultra-conservative was enough to make his GM scream "Timeout!" in the 49ers suite. Later with the Chiefs pushing his O-line around, his high paid QB couldn't handle the pressure.

Yippee! Shanahan blew a 10-point lead! Karma! Revenge! 

What the hell are you guys talking about?

Did Shanahan knock over your mailbox or do donuts on your front lawn?

Guess you can put away your Shanahan voodoo doll.

But did that suddenly make the Falcons no longer the owners of the greatest collapse in professional sports history? 

To make Kyle Shanahan the bad guy is way too simplistic. Some of you were upset he laughed off questions about 28-3 last week. What's he supposed to do, cry? Say "Yes at night I go in my basement and I scream at myself..."

Is he prickly at times? Yup. Is he snarky? Sure. A lot like his dad, he comes off as the smartest guy in the room.

Well news flash. During his time with the Falcons Kyle Shanahan was the smartest guy in the room. Certainly the smartest guy in Flowery Branch. Certainly the smartest guy in The Georgia Dome wearing a Falcons polo. 

We don't get to the Super Bowl without Kyle Shanahan 

Matt Ryan doesn't win his MVP without Kyle Shanahan. 

In 2017 with a defense that held the Rams & Eagles to 28 points combined in the playoffs, we needed Kyle Shanahan. Our red zone became the dead zone after his departure.

If you want to pin our Super Bowl 51 collapse on Kyle Shanahan that's just plain lazy and not even close to the facts. 

Nearly everyone on the Falcons sideline bears responsibility.  

The Falcons' collapse in Houston was a team effort. There is a lot of revisionist history out there. Some selective amnesia, if you will. The Falcons blew a 25-point lead in no particular order because of:

  • Tevin Coleman injuring his left ankle. 
  • Alex Mack played through the pain of a leg fracture and eventually wore down in the second half.
  • Devonta Freeman took a pass from Ryan at the 10 for a 39-yard gain in what should have been the game sealing drive. BUT... Freeman also missed a blitz pickup in a crucial spot.
  • Falcons penalties in big spots like Jake Mathews' hold which took us out of a potential game-winning FG.
  • Dan Quinn's young defense was carved up by the G.O.A.T. in the second half.

After Matt Ryan hits Julio Jones at the Patriots 22 with that amazing toe-tapping catch, we ran the ball on first down (1-yard loss). Look it up we ran it at least once.

Now if you want to argue (as all of have at some point) we should have run it two more times and kicked the FG to make it a two-possession game, I agree with you.

That's where Shanahan deserves some heat for sure. But where was Dan Quinn in all of this? 

Was his headset broken? Was he so busy trying to rally his defense he lost all sense of situational awareness?

Shanahan had play calling autonomy, I get it. But if Shanahan had tunnel vision in the moment isn't it incumbent on the head coach to get on the horn and say "Hey we have to shorten this game, extend the lead take the sure points?" Fall down twice! 

It takes more than one guy to choke away a Super Bowl. But go on making Kyle Shanahan THE scapegoat. If that helps ya sleep at night.