NFL power rankings are flooding in and as expected, the Falcons have tumbled across the media’s rankings. The Lions dominated in Detroit. There’s a lot to blame, but let’s not kid ourselves, most of it falls on the offense’s shoulders.
Arthur Smith and Desmond Ridder are at fault. Smith didn’t call his best game, and Ridder is still a young quarterback suffering from typical early career struggles. His decision-making and accuracy need to improve, but I believe the Falcons’ offensive shortcomings come down to the offensive line.
In ESPN’s Week 4 power rankings, the theme was the biggest issue on offense. Atlanta’s beat writer, Michael Rothstein doesn’t see it the same way I do. As the Falcons fall five spots, Rothstein’s biggest issue is finding an early rhythm.
16. Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
Week 3 ranking: 11
Offensive efficiency: 36.7 (19th)
Biggest issue on offense: Finding early rhythm
After every game, quarterback Desmond Ridder (and others) have lamented how Atlanta hasn’t been able to find an offensive flow early in games. The Falcons have two first-half touchdowns in their first three games and the struggles have led Atlanta to have more pressure put on it in the second halves. Twice, the Falcons have found second-half rhythm, but that’s not a sustainable way to play — and it starts with more consistency from Ridder and better protection from the offensive line. — Michael Rothstein
There’s no doubt that the Falcons have had issues getting their offense off the ground.
Against the Panthers, they scored 17 of their 24 points in the second half, most of which were produced by turnovers thanks to Jessie Bates III. The Falcons trailed the Packers by 12 points with less than 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Another fourth-quarter shutout propelled Atlanta to a comeback victory.
Nothing changed in Detroit. The Falcons started slow. The only difference was the Lions took advantage of the lead and didn’t make mistakes while ahead, unlike the Packers and Panthers.
Still, I think the primary catalyst for the offense’s shortcomings is the line. Kaleb McGary has regressed in pass protection; Jake Matthews’ run blocking has taken a step back. Matthew Bergeron is experiencing rookie struggles.
There’s a lot of criticism to go around, and it’s a complex system. Placing blame on just one facet is disingenuous.
Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire