The Falcons avoided disaster thanks to heroic efforts from Cordarrelle Patterson and Matt Ryan on the final drive against the Saints. With just over a minute left in regulation, New Orleans took the lead as Trevor Siemian connected with Kenny Stills twice on the drive, one being the go-ahead touchdown. After failing the two-point conversion, the Falcons received the ball on the 25 with 61 seconds left in the game. What was once an 18-point lead now looked like every Falcons fan’s worst nightmare — an epic meltdown against their most hated rival.
With only two timeouts left, the Falcons opened the drive with Patterson split out wide, running a Go route for 64 yards and setting up the Younghoe Koo game-winning field goal. Still, before that entire sequence of events, the Falcons led the Aints by five with four minutes left in the game and a chance to put their divisional rivals away with a couple of first downs. What would happen next is inexcusable.
The Saints were flagged for defensive holding to begin the drive, which gave the Falcons an easy first down; then, Arthur Smith elected to have Feleipe Franks come in at quarterback, resulting in a one-yard gain. The rest of the drive went sack, sack, punt. The zone read package with Franks has experienced very little success, and at such a critical point in the game, Smith continuing the experiment is a head-scratching decision, to say the least.
Franks is a much more athletic quarterback than Matt Ryan, so defenses have to respect his feet. There is value in that, but I have absolutely no reasoning for using him in such a high leverage situation as Smith did. Using Franks in a second or third down and short scenario makes much more sense to me.
Smith was fortunate his team came out of the Big Easy with a victory because this decision would’ve been scrutinized much more. The experiment with Franks continues, and though I’m not totally against the idea, Smith has to have the whereabouts of when to use the package. Another thing for me, why do offensive coordinators continue to keep the less mobile quarterback — Matt Ryan in this case — on the field, usually split out wide? It makes no sense.
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