Unsurprisingly, the Atlanta Falcons have a third down problem. They technically have one on both sides of the ball, but the one on defense is the one we’re talking about tonight.
Just yesterday we talked about how good this Falcons defense can be, and while I may be a bit more optimistic than some of you, I think we can agree there’s plenty of talent here. To get to that level, though, the Falcons kind of need to stop allowing teams to roll over them on third down. That has been a persistent truth for about a decade now, or at least, it seems like it has been.
So here’s the big, open-ended question for a Saturday night: Can the Falcons stop these on a more regular basis? The difference between nearly 6 out of 10 third downs being converted from the very common 3-6 yard range and 2 out of 10 being converted is massive in the context of any NFL game, and it’s why the Broncos are generally able to keep scores low and reasonable while their offense putters around the field ineffectually. Atlanta has the talent on offense to dominate if the Falcons can start preventing those short, easy passes teams love to use against them at this distance, and ensure they’re making good tackles short of the first down when such opportunities present themselves. My gut says they can do it—they could be a very good defense, remember?—but that we’re not going to see them miraculously get out of the bottom half of the league in this particular metric in 2017.
What say you?