Everyone knows how different the Falcons personnel will look in 2023 compared to either of the first two seasons under the new regime. Not only is the top-end talent much improved, but the roster’s depth is also night and day.
However, something not as many people are talking about is the schematic changes. Ryan Nielsen is taking over for Dean Pees and will bring a new-look defense to go along with the haul of free agents added this offseason, but the offense is also vastly different from Arthur Smith’s first year.
The Falcons have sported three starting quarterbacks across two seasons, two of which have widely different skill sets.
Matt Ryan kicked off the Arthur Smith era as signal caller, and the Falcons passed a lot more than they ran, ranking around league average in attempts and yards passing. They also ranked near the bottom in rushes and rushing yards. Given the strengths of Ryan, Smith’s offense was tailored to the veteran’s high football IQ and lack of mobility.
In 2022, the offense was widely different. With the much less accurate but more mobile Mariota under center, the Falcons rushed more than about every other club in football and did it more efficiently as well, while throwing it among the least amount of times in the league.
Different offenses will give different verbiage, terminology, personnel packages, checks, reads, etc. And it will once again change in 2023 as the team hopes Desmond Ridder is the long-term answer.
Falcons fans can expect another offensive shift, something in between the 2021 and 2022 schemes with Ridder at the helm. Despite boasting the athleticism to assume the role Mariota operated under, Ridder will pass more often than his predecessor. It will be a much more balanced offense than we’ve seen under Arthur Smith. It should be one of the most effective units in football if Desmond Ridder can keep the train on the rails.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire