Falcons: Matt Ryan has been excellent protecting the ball in the red zone

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When the Falcons hired Arthur Smith this past offseason, there were expectations that he would be able to revive the offense’s rushing attack as well as improve their red zone efficiency. Obviously, there were other issues. Under Dan Quinn, there seemed to be a disconnect between the coaches and players that resonated into a lack of accountability. Smith left Tennessee after coordinating a record-breaking offense, producing one of the most prolific run games in football and one of the most efficient red zone offenses in league history.

Fast forward 14 weeks into his first season as a head coach, and the team is beginning to reveal itself. The Falcons passing attack has sputtered in recent weeks, but they’ve put up 100+ yards rushing in four of the past five games. They’ve adopted the more physically and mentally tough culture that Smith has been trying to implement. Most importantly, the marriage between scheme and personnel is coming to fruition. As of right now, the Falcons are playing their best football of the season.

Against Carolina, Atlanta played their most complete game under the new regime, limiting the mistakes while capitalizing on the Panthers’ own blunders. The Falcons haven’t played mistake-free football for much of the year, but in one area, they’ve been excellent. Matt Ryan has yet to throw an interception in the red zone.

 

All statistics are courteous of Team Rankings

The Falcons offense currently ranks 21st in the league in red zone touchdown scoring percentage, getting in the endzone on 57.50% of trips. This is just a slight improvement from the Falcons 53.45% rate in 2020 under Dirk Koetter. Although Ryan has protected the ball inside the 20, the actual production is lacking. The offense’s issues don’t lie in getting the ball inside the red zone; it is converting those trips to touchdowns. In the team’s seven losses, the offense has only reached the end zone eight times on 17 trips. It’s likely a combination of scheme and execution, but the red zone offense hasn’t improved nearly as much as some expected.

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