It is evident in the numbers that the Falcons did not do a good job of achieving a balance on offense against the Miami Dolphins. They wound up throwing the ball 35 times against just 19 carries, and only six of those carries came after halftime, despite the fact that the Falcons got the ball back in the third quarter with a 17-7 lead. If your passing game is incredibly crisp and effective, that’s perfectly fine. When you do as the Falcons did in this one and go three and out with basically no commitment to the run on multiple drives, however, it starts to sting.
Caveats here: Gameflow dictates some of this, and a 1:1 run:pass ratio obviously isn’t a panacea for your offensive woes. The Falcons were not, for instance, going to run the ball on that last drive when they were fighting against time, and they would have been foolish to. I still have some concerns not just with the run, but with the way the Falcons elected to call their ground game against Miami.
This is a habit that cropped up rather suddenly against the Bills, though we missed it because Steve Sarkisian has shown a real willingness to lean on Devonta Freeman at times The Falcons threw the ball 42 times and came up with only 17 points two weeks ago against the Bills (they ran the ball 29 times, at least). Compare that to the Lions game when they scored 30 (35 passes versus 28 runs), Packers game when they scored 34 (28 passes versus 27 runs), and even the Bears game when they scored 23 (30 passes versus 23 runs), and you begin to see a pattern. Throw in the fact that the Falcons have been dealing with injuries either to the receiving corps, offensive line, or both over their last two games and you begin to see why it’s a problem that the Falcons aren’t leaning more heavily on the league’s most dynamic running back duo.
The Falcons also simply didn’t come to this game with a plan and a willingness to do the hard work of running against the Dolphins’ interior line, especially late in the game. By my count, Atlanta tried to either cut it outside or run behind the tackle on well over half their carries, and there just didn’t appear to be an appetite for challenging that solid Miami interior. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the Falcons got little-to-no yardage consistently running outside in the second half on their precious few carries, which seemed...bad.
In summary, the Falcons need to be more willing to let their backs do the work of grinding out time and wearing down defenders, especially when they have leads or are playing in very tight games. Their unwillingness to do so, particularly against Miami, is starting to feel costly.