The Falcons don’t have high expectations this season, particularly outside of Atlanta. However, the folks over at Pro Football Focus believe the Falcons could surprise some people, specifically Arthur Smith’s offense. Here’s what PFF had to say:
The Falcons finally pressed the reset button this offseason when they traded away quarterback Matt Ryan, not long after making him virtually untradeable with a contract restructure. It was assumed the team would languish in turmoil for a while, but the pieces added on offense, in particular, could yield solid results. Marcus Mariota was the best-graded quarterback in the entire league this preseason if you set the playing time threshold low enough. He brings a rushing threat that gives any offense a very high floor. Added to the dynamism of Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts, there is a solid nucleus in Atlanta. Top pick Drake London barely featured due to an injury, but if he can make an impact, the Falcons could surprise some people.
Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder combined for 82 rushing yards on nine carries in the Falcons’ preseason opener against the Lions. These weren’t designed runs by any means, but Falcons fans can expect Arthur Smith to utilize his mobile quarterbacks in that fashion. Instead, many of these runs came on designed rollouts, which Smith didn’t really have the ability to do with Matt Ryan.
‘We had plays that – we’ll continue to evolve there, but it’s preseason, we’re not going to show our hand in a lot of other stuff,” Smith said in his postgame press conference. “But, when you have athletic quarterbacks and you’re able to move the pocket, they’re going to be able to extend plays.”
The Falcons use of their quarterbacks’ mobility is another dynamic element Smith will have at his disposal. Considering how poor Atlanta’s offensive line is at protecting the passer, the ability to play off-script will be vital for any success in 2022. And we saw what that could look like on multiple instances, but here are a couple of clips from the exhibition in Detroit:
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 12, 2022
This angle of Desmond Ridder’s game winning TD 👀 pic.twitter.com/oRdS8pD9xq
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) August 15, 2022
The Falcons were at the bottom of the league in designed rollouts last season, but fans can expect them to be near the top in 2023. It’ll look like a much different offense, and it’s up to Smith to help cover up the deficiencies of Mariota and Ridder through play design and calling.
Designed rollouts are an offensive advantage above and beyond play action, which they usually are run in conjunction with.
Here is how often each team ran designed rollouts as a percentage of dropbacks. pic.twitter.com/hZDV9WK1lQ
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) July 15, 2022
Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire