Among Week 4 blowouts, ESPN pundit most concerned about Falcons

NFL: SEP 17 Packers at Falcons

The Falcons were one of a handful of clubs that were blown out in Week 4.

The Dolphins lost 48-20 to the Bills behind a Josh Allen masterclass. The Saints’ offense continues to sputter after losing 26-9 to the Buccaneers. The Patriots were completely dominated by the Cowboys 38-3. The Steelers and Bengals both struggled offensively, only putting up nine total points in their Week 4 tilts.

However, it’s Atlanta that Bill Barnwell of ESPN is most concerned about among those teams that were blown out. He wrote about 600 words on why the Falcons are in trouble, but I just want to comment on a few of his quotes.

“It was yet another game with two top-10 picks as decoys so blocking tight end Jonnu Smith can lead Atlanta in receptions (six) and receiving yards (95).”

It is unreal that we as Falcons fans have to sit here every Monday and Tuesday wondering when Kyle Pitts and Drake London will have their breakouts. Two top 10 picks have effectively not been used since they were drafted. I don’t know if it’s Arthur Smith, Desmond Ridder, or a combination of both, but the quarterback wasn’t helping the cause.

“Before the Falcons’ win expectancy dropped below 10%, Desmond Ridder was 9-of-17 for 68 yards with a crushing pick-six on a slant that simply wasn’t there. The pick ended the first Atlanta drive of any note in four tries and was followed immediately by another interception. Neither pass should have been thrown when he released the football. The play design of the second pick had nothing to get the free safety out of the middle of the field, and when Ridder was late to throw to Kyle Pitts, Jacksonville’s Andre Cisco had an easy interception.”

Ridder’s interceptions were unacceptable, and I’m sure he would tell you the same. The Falcons cannot win with Ridder under center right now, but again, he’s not the only one that deserves blame. Arthur Smith hasn’t come as advertised. His offense is predictable and is beginning to run dry.

“I wrote a lot about Ridder last week, and much of it applies to what we saw Sunday. There’s just not enough of a vertical component to this passing attack, especially given how effective Atlanta is when running the football. Ridder attempted two deep throws in London and failed to complete either pass. He was 1-of-4 for 7 yards working off play-action. In coach Arthur Smith’s previous job at Tennessee, teams that sold out to stop Derrick Henry were punished by huge chunk plays from Ryan Tannehill on play-action. Now, teams that sell out to stop the run against the Falcons just have to worry about which tight end or running back is bringing in a screen.”

It’s not just those two, though. The offensive line was abysmal in the Falcons’ performance against the Lions. Though Barnwell points to the sacks against the Jaguars, there was notable improvement from those five up front in Week 4. Two of the sacks were because of Ridder, and you could probably argue three of the four were on the quarterback.

“Sacks continue to be a problem. Ridder was taken down four times on 35 dropbacks, including a strip sack on Atlanta’s final snap of the game. Again, the Falcons didn’t score on the drives in which Ridder was sacked. The Jaguars have exciting players in their pass rush, but they had five sacks in three games before this game. One sack was on a designed quarterback draw, but Ridder panicked on third-and-1 in the pocket and ran his way into a takedown.”

The Falcons clearly don’t trust Desmond Ridder because the offense looks rudimentary. Or, maybe they do, and Arthur Smith just isn’t the offensive mind we all thought he was. The passing concepts don’t always have a rhyme or reason, but Ridder isn’t executing regardless. It’s a mess.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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