The Atlanta Falcons And The Empty Backfield

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 15: (L-R) Roddy White #84 and Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrate after White scored a 6-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Georgia Dome on December 15, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

We here at The Falcoholic have spent some time talking about what Dirk Koetter is going to bring to the offense. The basic thought is more passing, more play-action and less runs, though it's unlikely to be boiled down to quite that simple a syrup.

Still, the chances are good that the Falcons will pass more and will attempt to stretch the field more effectively than they have in the past. That could lead to a direct increase in the number of empty backfield or five wide formations they run.

This is a team that has the horses to run that way. You can line Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier/Kevin Cone, Tony Gonzalez, and Jacquizz Rodgers up wide and cause nightmares for opposing pass defenses. They'll know the pass is coming, of course, but the Falcons have enough quality options to still cause problems.

For that simple reason, I think you'll see the Falcons line up five wide more than they have in the past. This is a team that doesn't particularly need to be conservative to get the job done anymore, and putting five receivers on the field and letting them wreak havoc on a defense would be a good way to break the mold a bit.

This isn't to say that Ryan's going to spend entire games lined up with an empty backfield. This is a team that values the run as a weapon and as a balancing factor far too much for that, and as always, Michael Turner is not exactly a pass catching back. The Falcons will go five wide sparingly., but that would still be an improvement.

One final caveat: I don't think the Falcons should get particularly attached to the idea of going with an empty backfield on critical short yardage situations. We're talking small sample size here, but that did not work so well against the Giants. To say the least.

Personally, as I said, I think it will happen more often and that it should happen more often. But what do you think?

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