Who is to blame for the Falcons offensive performance against Lions?

NFL: SEP 24 Falcons at Lions

The Falcons offense put up a pedestrian 183 total yards against the Lions. I see a lot of complaining on Twitter about who is at fault, prompting me to write this and calm the masses. It’s no single entity’s fault; in fact, everyone is to blame.

Desmond Ridder

There’s no doubt what the Falcons quarterback needs to work on — decision-making and accuracy. Unfortunately, those two attributes don’t develop without experience and are generally the last things to come around. He missed a few throws against the Lions, especially late in the game, which only magnified his struggles in Week 3.

Third down is also another area of concern. It’s the money down for a reason, and Ridder has to be better. He has to be better in a lot of areas, but he’s only started seven games in the NFL; this was always going to be a drawn-out process. He deserves the opportunity to correct mistakes. This is a young quarterback going through typical early-season, early-career struggles.

Sure, he needs to be better in multiple facets, but it surely wasn’t his fault.

Arthur Smith

Arthur Smith is to blame. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t have an issue with the play calling as much as some others, especially in the first half, but there’s also the elephant in the room — his passing concepts are generic and don’t regularly scheme receivers open. Therefore, it either requires pass catchers to win one-on-one, Ridder to make a great throw, or both.

The fact of the matter is that it’s a new signal caller with a somewhat new scheme with new offensive weapons; it’s unrealistic to expect it to be firing on all cylinders at this point. There’s not much Smith could’ve done against Detroit anyway because of the offense line, which has been by far the biggest letdown of the 2023 season.

Falcons Offensive Line

The offensive line has regressed severely. Kaleb McGary‘s pass protection has reverted to pre-2022 levels, and the same can be said for Jake Matthews‘ run blocking.

Some might bring up Chris Lindstrom‘s play, but Falcons fans initially overreacted to an unbelievable 2022 campaign, dubbing him the league’s best guard, which was only exaggerated when he signed the richest deal in league history at his position. He’s one of the better guards in the NFL, but he’s surely not the best. That’s what he’s been playing like thus far. I have no bone to pick with Lindstrom.

Matthew Bergeron played well in the season opener, but he looked like a rookie against the Packers, and those struggles continued against the Lions. I am not too concerned with his level of play either because he’s a rookie.

I believe most passing issues are related to the offensive line, not Ridder. Could Ridder be better? Sure. The primary catalyst of the Falcons’ anemic passing game is the protection.

Photographer: Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire
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