Through 9 games, we now have a feel for what kind of offense the Falcons want to run. It is still a huddle-based offense that shows similar looks for both running and passing formations, making it extremely difficult for defenses to clue-in on what play is coming. It’s also heavily play-action based, using those looks to fool defenses and to take advantage of sub-optimal defensive personnel. In short, it’s a very well-crafted offense that defensive coordinators have nightmares planning for.
That said, the use of up-tempo in this offense has been on-point. Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan will often use the hurry-up to take advantage of defensive alignments they find favorable, or to wear down a defense that has just been hit with a big play. It’s a brilliant way to integrate a strong area of Ryan’s game without resorting to a complete no-huddle based offense. Here’s a quick look at how successful their use of up-tempo sets have been.
The passing offense in up-tempo sets is nearly unstoppable. On the year, the Falcons stat line looks like this:
27/34 (79.4%), 428 yards (12.6 yds/attempt), 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 148.2 passer rating
Those numbers speak for themselves, but it’s pretty clear that the judicious use of up-tempo is absolutely thrashing opposing defenses.
Here’s a breakdown of the individual players getting involved. As you’ll notice, Ryan is distributing the ball very well in the up-tempo, which only adds to the difficulty in defending it.
Similarly, the Falcons offense is also incredibly efficient in the running game out of up-tempo sets. On the year, the stat line looks like this:
23 attempts, 130 yards, 5.65 yards/attempt
Here’s how it breaks down by player:
As you can see, all three running backs are averaging over 5 yards per carry, which is well above the average rushing yards per attempt on the season.
As you can see in the breakdowns above, the Falcons find ways to run or pass out of their up-tempo sets, carrying over the theme of unpredictability in what they try to do. The offensive numbers out of the up-tempo out-pace the already impressive numbers out of the conventional offense.
Many fans have wanted more up-tempo sets since Shanahan has been here. Although this offense is still primarily huddle-based, the judicious use of the up-tempo offense has been brilliantly executed. While many would argue we should be using it more, the results seem to indicate that the current rate of usage is just right.
For an offense that is currently the best in the NFL, the up-tempo sets are yet another weapon to give defenses nightmares.