The Falcons offense was far from spectacular throughout the first two weeks, but this past Sunday against the Lions, they looked totally outmatched against a defense that they should have been able to take advantage of, especially given the injuries they were dealing with.
There is plenty of blame to go around, starting with Arthur Smith. His play-calling and design, particularly in the passing game, has to get better. However, it’s difficult to be too complex when the offensive line is whiffing blocks and Desmond Ridder still looks like a rookie under center.
There are problems that must be fixed as the Falcons head over the pond to take on the Jaguars in London, but what I’m most intrigued in seeing this Sunday is how the offense responds to what Jacksonville’s defense is going to try and accomplish.
All Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell has to do is turn on the tape from Atlanta’s matchup in Detroit to find the blueprint for stopping the Falcons offense. Despite being hobbled, Detroit loaded the box with eight defenders, daring Desmond Ridder to beat them. The Falcons tried early and often, but whether it was poor blocking, inaccurate throws, or no separation from receivers, Atlanta’s passing game never threatened Detroit’s defense.
The result was a massacre. The Falcons only managed 44 yards on 20 carries, Ridder was sacked seven times, and the offense as a whole failed to eclipse 200 yards. Atlanta averaged 2.8 yards per play, as they lost by two touchdowns, but the scoreboard doesn’t really do justice to how dominant the Lions were from the opening whistle.
Every defensive coordinator around the league that has to face the Falcons is going to turn on the film and implement similar strategies. Sell out to stop the run and force Ridder to beat the defense with his arm. If the Falcons can’t find a way to keep defenses honest with their passing concepts, it’s going to be a long season for this offense.
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