Is the Falcons offense… good?

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The Falcons’ offense has looked like a completely different unit in the second year under Arthur Smith, who was hired for his expertise on that side of the ball. In Tennessee, Smith was responsible for turning Ryan Tannehill into an elite signal caller, as well as churning Derrick Henry into a 2,000-yard rusher with back-to-back rushing titles. With Smith as offensive coordinator, the Titans were one of the most efficient units in the league, powered by a dominant run game and an extensive play action system. Now, he’s finding similar success with the Falcons.

In his second season as Falcons head coach, Smith’s offense has taken a significant leap from 2021. The group is averaging 26.7 points per game (9th) compared to 18.4 in 2021, 2.7 touchdowns per game (10th) compared to 1.9 in 2021, 5.9 yards per play (9th) compared to 5.1 in 2021, 156.7 rushing yards per game (5th) compared to 85.4 in 2021, 4.9 rush yards per attempt compared to 3.7 in 2021. It’s an entirely different offense, but that should be expected with Marcus Mariota as quarterback instead of Matt Ryan.

Mariota is obviously a limited passer compared to the veteran Ryan, and the offensive approach from Smith reflects that. The Falcons are a run-first team, and the mobility of Mariota only accentuates that fact. The stats reflect it, too. Atlanta is averaging 197.7 passing yards per game (26th) compared to 218.4 in 2021 with Ryan.

However, there is a stark difference; the passing facet of the offense is much more efficient with the threat of a competent run game. The Falcons are averaging 8.1 yards per pass attempt (5th) compared to 7.0 in 2021. With a much more balanced offensive attack, defenses haven’t been able to tee off on Atlanta’s quarterback. The Falcons are allowing 2.0 sacks per game (11th) compared to 2.4 in 2021. And it’s not just meticulous drives down the field, the Falcons are one of the most explosive offenses in football too.

In nearly every offensive statistical category, the Falcons are among the league’s best.

The offense is beginning to mimic those Tennessee offenses that were so successful under Smith.

The Falcons are establishing the run and deploying plenty of play action passes off of it, which helps a struggling passer in Marcus Mariota. Atlanta looks tough up front as Falcons runners average 3.7 yards before contact, which is the 5th-best mark in the league. They’re also running a lot more RPOs this year with a more mobile quarterback, totaling 24 plays through three weeks. It looks like a completely different offense, and the Falcons are actually exciting to watch every Sunday now.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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