Earlier this month, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan explained to CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco exactly how his team blew a late third-quarter 28-3 Super Bowl lead to the Patriots. Atlanta would go on to lose in overtime in one of the most gut-wrenching defeats in NFL history.
Afterward, there was plenty of finger-pointing to go around and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan -- now the 49ers head coach -- wasn't immune. Specifically, how long it took Shanahan to call plays late in the Super Bowl with the game still to be decided.
"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan told Prisco. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines."
The Falcons may want to put the 2016 season behind them and focus on 2017 but not before Ryan faced questions about his recent remarks.
"I think sometimes the headlines of articles can be misleading," Ryan said Sunday from training camp, via ESPN.com. "In that situation, it was just a reference to how we operated all year. It wasn't coming in too late or anything. That's just the way it came in. I thought Kyle did a great job for us last year.
"I think everybody is reading a little bit too much into it, and it is what it is. But we've moved on. We're on to this year. And we're focused on trying to become the best football team that this team can be."
Ryan continued, defending Shanahan, considered one of the league's best playcallers.
"We didn't have any delay of games," the quarterback said. "This wasn't a critical take on Kyle at all. This was just the way that we operated in the past. Kyle did a great job for us for two years and did a great job of calling plays for us. It wasn't a critique on him. That's just the way we operated."
The Falcons head into 2017 as one of the NFC's best teams, and that conversation starts with Ryan, the 2016 NFL MVP. Steve Sarkisian replaces Shanahan and the expectation is that the offense will remain among the league's best.
"It's not my job to maintain it, but to improve it," Sarkisian told Prisco last month. "I wouldn't be a competitor if I didn't feel that way."