Explosive plays are indicative of the most successful and sustainable offenses.
The Dolphins lead the league in 10+ yard rushes and 20+ yard receptions while leading the league in points and most major offensive metrics. The Falcons are a bottom-four offense in scoring but rank tied for 9th in explosive plays with 37.
So, why isn’t Atlanta scoring more points?
To point to one particular facet of the offense or one instance of the game would be disingenuous to the complexity of the NFL. However, there certainly are a couple of key stats that explain the lack of converting those explosive plays into points.
Turnovers are the biggest factor in the Falcons offensive shortcomings. Atlanta ranks tied for 7th in turnovers with 10 in six games, including three costly interceptions from Desmond Ridder against the Commanders. The third-round pick is currently tied with Mac Jones for the most turnover-worthy plays in the league.
What’s even worse? 14.9% of Atlanta’s offensive drives end in turnovers; that ranks 7th in the NFL. Negative plays in general are hampering the Falcons. Too many of them cannot overcome the explosive plays.
Ridder has been sacked 19 times, which is tied for the 6th most in the league. Moreover, the Falcons are league average or worse in converting on third downs and redzone trips to touchdowns.
Atlanta is converting 37.5% of third downs into first downs, which ranks 21st. Even when they get inside the 20-yard line, the Falcons are only converting 55.6% of those trips into touchdowns.
Negative plays, staying behind the chains, and not converting in critical situations are why the Falcons are underachieving on that side of the ball. Desmond Ridder is learning on the job, so this shouldn’t be too surprising. If they want to find any measure of consistency, it starts with protecting the ball.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire