NFL Wire News

Falcons’ offense defies numbers in 6-1 start


The Sports Xchange

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons improved to 6-1 with another fourth quarter come-from-behind victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, but the offense has begun to sputter following a white-hot start to the season under new coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

The Falcons’ third-down efficiency and in the red zone has steadily decreased. A rash of turnovers in the red zone has also stalled the attack.

Wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White contend that the offense is in a funk. Quarterback Matt Ryan clearly hasn’t been as sharp as he has been in previous seasons.

Jones had his first full week of practice last week, while Leonard Hankerson was limited in practice. Now, Hankerson left the game with hamstring strain and won’t practice on Wednesday.

There was also the change at center because of Mike Person’s ankle injury. But coach Dan Quinn doesn’t believe that that the timing of the passing game is off.

“We think it’s more of factor of us taking care of the ball,” Quinn said. “Making great decisions when we can. There is always going to be times whether if it be on a drop, in terms of a throw or a route that you like; can we get those details down just right. I think we can… I don’t have a sense for the timing being off. I thought we had honestly one of our best weeks of practice last week heading into the ball game.”

Quinn seemed more perturbed by the penalties that slowed the offense. The Falcons had three penalties on first down, two holdings (Andy Levitre and Jake Matthews) and one block in the back (White) that killed drives before they got started against Tennessee. White’s penalty brought back a 41-yard run.

“We’ll be at our best when we don’t start some drives with first-and-20s and some long ones,” Quinn said. “That can make it extremely tough to get going. For one, let’s get rid of some of the penalties that start a drive at first-and-20. It’s so hard to convert when you get to that. We are at our best when we have the manageable third downs that we like.”

Turnovers in the red zone are also troubling for Quinn.

“As far as the red zone, certainly, when we are heading down there, we want touchdowns not field goals,” Quinn said. “Of our turnovers four of the 10 have occurred down in the red zone. That is a factor for sure as well. It’s an area of emphasis this week and certainly an area that we can get better at.”

Before the Monday night game, the Falcons ranked fifth in the NFL in total offense (403.1 yards per game) and fourth in scoring (27.6 points per game).

“Honestly, it’s about our whole offense and the different ways that we attack,” Quinn said. “Where we are headed … it’s all out there for us. We will do a better job of taking care of the ball, you bet we will.”


–PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus. Matt Ryan tossed two interceptions while completing 22 of 38 passes for 251 yards and one touchdowns. The Falcons were 5 of 14 (36 percent) on third down and were 1 of 3 (33 percent) in the red zone. It was their second lowest game on third down and tied for the worst game in the red zone. He finished with a passing rating 64.7, his second lowest mark of the season. Julio Jones caught nine of his 17 targets for 92 yards and one touchdown. Roddy White and Nick Williams had three catches each. Tight end Jacob Tamme also had three catches. Backup tight end Tony Moeaki caught his first pass with the team.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus. Devonta Freeman rushed for 116 yards on 25 carries and average 4.6 yards per carry. Why Freeman didn’t get the ball from the 1-yard lane on two plays must be explained by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan when he addresses the media on Thursday. Tevin Coleman had three carries for 14 yards.

–PASS DEFENSE: C-minus. Second-round pick Jalen Collins played 37 snaps (67 percent) in the nickel and Robert Alford slid down inside for Phillip Adams, who just played two snaps on special teams. Strong safety William Moore left the game with a groin injury. Free safety Ricard Allen finished with six tackles. Free safety Robenson Therezie’s interception with 1:31 left in the game sealed the victory. Linebacker Paul Worrilow also had a red zone interception to help thwart a Tennessee scoring drive.

–RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus. The Falcons held the Titans to 77 yards rushing after getting gashed early in the game by Antonio Andrews and Dexter McCluster. Justin Durant, playing with a brace on his left arm, led the Falcons with eight tackles and one tackle for loss. Worrilow had four tackles. Brooks Reed is playing strong, but not posting up tackle stats.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: B. Punter Matt Bosher averaged 43.5 yards net and gross on four punts. He placed two inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Matt Bryant missed a 47-yard field-goal attempt wide right. He has missed three field goals over the past three games. Coach Dan Quinn said he’s not concerned about Bryant, who’s 37.

–COACHING: C-minus. The Falcons continue to shoot themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. The offensive numbers are steadily declining on third down and in the red zone. The play-calling in the red zone must be address. After starting the season 10 of 13 in the red zone over the first four games, the Falcons are 5 of 10 over the past three games. The coaches did elect to blitz slightly more against the inexperienced Mettenberger, who was making his seventh NFL start.

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