The Falcons came out victorious against the Jaguars this Sunday and brought themselves within one game of a playoff spot. With six games left, Atlanta has a legit shot at making the postseason. The Falcons have a flawed roster but are still capable of winning games. The coaching has flashed at times and frustrated in other situations. The team should win a couple more games at least and finish right around .500 on the cusp of the playoffs. During that time, a situation to monitor is the strange rotational approach Arthur Smith is using a center with Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman.
Dalman replaced Hennessy during the first half, which confused me at first. It could’ve been an injury or the staff benching their starter, but as the game continued, it became clear they were rotating the two centers every couple of drives. After the game in a press conference, Arthur Smith cleared everything up. The Falcons planned to go into the game with Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman rotating two drives on, two drives off. He reiterated that they planned on it all week; Smith also said their rotation will continue.
Dalman finished the game with a 71.2 PFF grade on 20 snaps, while Hennessy doubled his snap count and finished with a 66.3 overall grade. No matter the snap count, Dalman finished with only one less drive than Hennessy. Talkin’ Birdy’s own Matt Karoly charted the difference in success on run plays with the two centers.
Charted the run success rate when Hennessy & Dalman were in the game. Here are the results:
• 52.9% success rate w/ Hennessy on 5 drives
• 55.6% success rate w/ Dalman on 4 drives
• 2 TDs w/ Hennessy, 1 w/ Dalman
• 3 10+ yard runs w/ Hennessy, 2 w/ Dalman#Falcons #ATLvsJAX
— Matt Karoly (@mattkaroly) November 29, 2021
When first watching the Falcons game, it appeared Arthur Smith called more runs with Dalman in and more passes with Hennessy. It could just be a coincidence, but Smith did say after that he thought the center rotation made them better.
What exactly does each player offer that the other doesn’t that makes the center carousel so worth it in the coaching staff’s eyes? For starters, the Falcons set a season-high in rushing yards on a defense that had recently been holding opposing offenses to very few yards on the ground.
It is possible the Falcons feel Dalman gives them a better chance at being successful on the ground than Hennessy does, as Smith preached about all week to his players he wanted to do.
“This whole week we have been talking about the run game, Wednesday all the way up to Sunday. We made it a big target for us to run the ball. We knew we could do it,” Cordarrelle Patterson reiterated of his head coach.
Going forward, we will see just how permanent this rotation of centers is, but all the signs point to the belief Dalman gives the offense a better rushing attack.
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