Matt Ryan was always one of the best quarterbacks during his playing days and he was able to take things up a notch with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator.
Ryan won his only MVP award while playing for Shanahan in 2016, the season in which the Falcons infamously lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots. The quarterback set career-highs in yards (4,944) and touchdowns (38) en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
Despite a sour end to Shanahan’s tenure in Atlanta, Ryan has fond memories of him. The two were able to push each other to be the best that they can be.
Ryan talked about his time with Shanahan on the Audacy Original Podcast “Take Command”, explaining how an offseason meeting set the tone for their unique relationship.
“Number one, the thing I always appreciated about (Kyle Shanahan) is you knew exactly where he stood. There was no gray area. There was zero gray area of how he felt. I always appreciated that” Ryan said (21:29 in player above). “As a player, you want honesty back. All I want is for you to put me in a position to be successful and I want to play my best. I think that he pushed me to get better. He pushed me outside of my comfort zone.
“There was a lot of stuff early on, I was like ‘Hey, I’ve never really done that in my career. I haven’t specialized in this but we’ve done more of this. He just goes ‘I don’t care, Matt, you can. I don’t care what you’ve done, I know what you can do,’ and pushed me to get better. I appreciated him for that.”
Ryan had already been in the league for seven years when Shanahan joined the Falcons as the offensive coordinator. After feeling each other out in the first year, the quarterback and offensive coordinator took off the gloves.
“We had this meeting in the offseason between my first and second year with him, and we came to the agreement that we both just had to let it out,” he said. “We would have the meetings up in the offensive coordinator spot on the second floor of Flowery Branch where he’d be on my a–, getting after me, and I’d be going back at him.”
While Ryan was worried after these arguments, it was exactly what Shanahan wanted.
“I’d be leaving I’d be like ‘Man, that was intense. Hopefully, it’s all good tomorrow,’” Ryan said. “Then he’d call me on the ride home and he’d be like ‘Dude, that was awesome; exactly what we needed. We’re in a great spot for install tomorrow.’ And I was like alright, we’re good.
“It turned into a really great relationship. I enjoyed playing for him. But we were both headstrong and both had great belief in what we were doing. I really think we both pushed each other to be the best versions of ourselves.”