The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots face this Sunday in the biggest game of the year: Super Bowl LI. On paper, this game appears to be a shootout between Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. According to FootballOutsiders, Atlanta has the number one offense, while New England is ranked second.
The Falcons offense is led by coordinator Kyle Shanahan who is known for coaching Matt Schaub with the Houston Texans and Robert Griffin III with the Washington Redskins. His passing game is based on a mixture of classic West Coast roots using a variety of formations and the horizontal passing game with a healthy mixture of play-action. He also paired this offense with an outside zone running game that made the Shanahan’s famous over the past two decades which has roots back to Alex Gibb’s scheme. For those that don’t remember, Tom Cable, Seattle Seahawks offensive line coach, is a disciple of Gibbs.
In this video breakdown, I show why Kyle Shanahan’s offense is so dynamic explaining it through Matt Ryan’s 99-yard drive versus the Seahawks.
As you can see in the video, Shanahan’s use of seven different formations, his use of motions to put his players in the best position to succeed, and his variety of offensive concepts for Matt Ryan to execute make this offense work to perfection. Obviously, having an All-Pro wide receiver like Julio Jones and a good running game through DeVonta Freeman certainly help, but he has consistently produced more with less in his time in the NFL.
Next season it appears likely that he will become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks should see a dynamic offense in a few short years from the Bay Area as long as they can land a franchise quarterback. There is some speculation that the 49ers are currently pursuing Washington Redskins’ quarterback Kirk Cousins if they don’t reach a long-term deal. Cousins, who Shanahan helped draft back in 2012, is a perfect fit for this offense. Hopefully, the Redskins will re-sign him for all of the NFC West’s sake.
Going back to the upcoming Super Bowl match, how the two teams will defend the two dynamic offenses of Kyle Shanahan and Josh McDaniels remains a mystery. The battle in the trenches will be very important to keep Atlanta from using play-action effectively, while the Falcons’ stunts better pressure Tom Brady for their defense to have any chance to stop him.
In my opinion, this game will go down to the final drive. The current spread has New England favored by three points and I would be surprised – just like I was surprised during the Denver Broncos – Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl – if this game turns into a blow out. So far the average margin of victory in the playoffs this season has been 15.7 points. I really hope this game does not follow that trend.