A lot of people deserve a lot of blame for the Falcons’ epic choke in Super Bowl LI, but no one deserves more blame, perhaps, than Kyle Shanahan.
“You got to blame somebody, and Shanahan said to one of the local TV stations here yesterday that he blew it,” Atlanta’s The Game morning host John Fricke said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I don’t know how you don’t (blame him). There are two pivotal moments that seem to be stuck with the fans here. One is, of course, at the end of the game the decision not to run the ball and not to force Bill (Belichick) to use his timeouts. And the other happened after the onside kick in the third quarter, when you get the ball at the 43 and you do nothing with it. You just do nothing. I don’t know. It’s hard to say. This is the kind of loss that could define a franchise, could define a head coach, could define a bunch of players. I don’t think it’ll do that to these guys. I don’t think it’ll do it to Dan Quinn. But you can never know – and this was pretty devastating.”
The Falcons were a great story this season, but in the end, they contributed another chapter to Atlanta’s long-suffering sports woe.
“Well, I think there’s a little bit of that,” Fricke said. “Certainly we have a rep. You earn the rep. The Cubs had earned the rep. Cleveland had earned a rep. Right or wrong, Atlanta’s got the rep. When you’ve got one title in 51 years in all these sports, I’ve seen it myself here. I went to high school here in the 1970s, so yeah, there’s something to it. Generalizations are generalizations for a reason. They’re usually true. Look, it’s a wonderful town. We’ve got so much going for us. This stadium is just nuts, this Mercedes-Benz stadium – wait until you see it. It is the nicest stadium in the world. It really is that nice. So there’s a lot going for it. Sport success is just not one of the things that we do well.”
Ultimately, Fricke believes that both Shanahan and Quinn will rebound from this loss.
“He’s an innovative guy,” Fricke said of Shanahan. “I think he’ll probably do fine (in San Francisco). Like you, I think my sense is that franchise is in disarray, so it’ll take a little while. It’ll take a few years. but I think he’ll probably be a very successful head coach given his lineage and who he is. I think he’ll probably do fine. The bigger question for us is who is going to take his spot in Atlanta? Who wouldn’t want to be the offensive coordinator of this team with those guys? I think that’s the one thing I think we have going for us this year. The reason nobody’s super down is we don’t believe this is a one-off for this team. I think there’s a lot of faith in this town in Dan Quinn. He is really connected to the town. So I think Kyle will do fine out in San Francisco, and I think Dan Quinn is going to be fine. I think they’ll be back.”