A Necessary Improvement: The Short Yardage Situation

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JANUARY 08: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball in the first quarter against the New York Giants during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

If there's one situation in which the Falcons critically and repeatedly failed a season ago, it was the short yardage situation.

Consider, if you will, the New York Giants game. The Falcons were twice stopped on a fourth-and-short, and once on an important third-and-inches. I'm not saying the Falcons would have won the game had they converted on those opportunities—getting to fourth and inches didn't happen by accident—but it's at least within the realm of possibility. A line with no push, a poorly-called play and arguably the wrong personnel to execute led to one hell of a bummer.

Fast forward to 2012, and you can see the Falcons are determined to prevent history from repeating itself. They drafted power along the offensive line, picked up a new fullback, changed the coaching staff and hopefully burned the "Michael Turner takes the ball three yards behind the line of scrimmage and then runs" play into ashes.

All of this is good, and I hope it's enough. The Falcons simply cannot afford to be that poor in short yardage any longer. With a power back like Turner available and a (hopefully) bigger offensive line, the team must convert those situations. As it did with the Giants, it could mean the difference between staying in the game with a shot to win it and embarrassing yourselves on national television. As we all know far too well, that's quite a difference.

Hopefully, the Falcons won't find themselves in that situation this often, but I'm at least a little more confident they'll actually manage to convert a few. What say you?

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