Falcons: Why is Arthur Smith’s offense spinning its wheels?

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To say Arthur Smith’s first two games were a disappointment would be an understatement. The Falcons offense could only muster two respectable drives against the Eagles in Week 1, and they both resulted in field goals. Though Smith’s group improved against the Buccaneers, they put up just 25 points on an extremely porous secondary. Sure, the front seven is elite, but the defense as a whole in Tampa Bay isn’t what it was to end the season a year ago.

The Falcons aren’t struggling in one particular area either; Smith’s running game hasn’t taken off, which inherently means his passing attack hasn’t either. According to Pro Football Focus, the Falcons offense ranks 30th in EPA/play, 31st in EPA/run, and 29th in EPA/pass. Those are excruciatingly bad numbers.

What is causing Arthur Smith’s offense to spin its wheels? To begin with, the offensive line is atrocious in pass sets, and the run blocking isn’t much better. It can’t be stated enough that this offense was always going to go as far as the line was going to go, and it hasn’t taken them very far. Smith had a coordinated plan to get the short, quick pass game going against the aggressive Todd Bowles defense, and it worked to a certain extent but still ultimately failed.

Smith will have to figure something out to jump-start his offense because the line isn’t going to miraculously become a competent unit. One area he could start is pre-snap motion, which is a simple tool used to keep defenses on their heels. It is shocking how rare Smith is using motion, something I expected to see frequently.

The number on the left is motion on the snap, and the number on the right is all shifts, including the motion man coming set pre-snap. This is something that can exponentially help an offense keep the defense honest, so I don’t understand why Smith hasn’t been using any. It is surprising because the offensive line isn’t a great group, so I would expect Smith to use every trick in the book to get an advantage.

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