ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reported on his twitter account at 1725 today (@mortreport) that Atlanta Falcons’ QB Coach and Assistant Head Coach Bill Musgrave has decided to take the Offensive Coordinator job on Leslie Frazier’s staff in Minnesota. What is Minnesota’s gain could very well be bad news for the Falcons’ Matt Ryan.
Bill Musgrave has been Matt Ryan’s QB Coach since his arrival as the number three pick in the 2008 Draft, and Musgrave’s input on Ryan’s ascension as an NFL QB is incalculable. While this new job in Minnesota provides Musgrave with a bump in responsibility (and probably pay), it remains to be seen how losing a trusted coach and confidant will affect Ryan, especially so soon after a devastating playoff loss in which he did not perform well.
Losing Musgrave will no doubt create more worries for Falcons fans in Georgia who are already puzzled at the way in which Mike Smith and Mike Mularkey choose to run their offense. It is possible that as QB Coach for the team, Musgrave would have provided a sympathetic ear for Ryan who may also have felt frustrated by the leash that Smith and Mularkey seem determined to use to hold him back from his full potential on the field. With Musgrave gone, will any possible small frustrations that Ryan may have with his head coach and offensive coordinator bubble over into something bigger?
It is obvious from the team’s playoff performance that Smith and Mularkey’s Martyball ways must change, and it may also be that Musgrave leaving provides the opportunity for a new voice to enter into the silent circle in Flowery Branch that handles all of the decisions regarding football philosophy. Many Falcons fans have been dreaming for months of what a creative offensive mind like Josh McDaniels could do with talents like Ryan and Roddy White, but now that McDaniels is going to use his considerable genius to turn Sam Bradford into the next great NFL QB, it is imperative that GM Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith not bungle the hiring of a new QB coach, and in fact, that they hire a QB coach with a fresh perspective in regards to offense in the NFL.
Change must come to the Atlanta Falcons offense. They can no longer afford to handcuff their young, talented QB to a 20th Century Offense in a 21st Century NFL. It is beyond time for Smith and Mularkey to loosen the reigns they have on Ryan and let him be the QB everyone sees when he's running the no-huddle offense. What Smith and Mularkey are doing in regards to Ryan's learning curve, handcuffing him the way they do with their vanilla, ultra-conservative offense, could be causing irreparable harm to the QB's vast potential.
Musgrave leaving the team to further his own career is giving Smith an opportunity to change his need to micro-manage and control every aspect of the offense, taking away all creativity and explosiveness this offense could have with the core of young talent present. Martyball is not winning football and it's not winner's football; especially seeing as that particular offensive philosophy has never won a single game that meant anything in January (or February).
Congratulations to Coach Musgrave and his family in their new adventure in Minnesota (bring a jacket, the weather's a little different than Georgia's)...
... and to Coach Smith and Mr. Dimitroff a message: don't screw up this chance that fate has presented you for a change... you may only get the one shot.
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