At the quarter season mark, we checked on the pace of the offense, defense, and special teams units to see how they stacked up against their counterparts in 2016. At that point, of course, the Atlanta Falcons were 3-1 and looked like they might keep that going with fits and starts. Instead, they’ve gone 1-3 since and the tenor of the conversation around the team has changed with those losses.
A lot of arrows have pointed to the Falcons offense during these trying times. With limited opportunities and plenty of bad mistakes (more on those in a bit), they’ve managed to turn in quality per-drive numbers that somehow have not translated into many points or even inspiring, lengthy field goal drives.
Below, you’ll find the midseason pace for the Falcons offense, which looks a little grim on paper. As always, remember that numbers in italics represent 2016.
340 points (540)
5,952 total yards (6,653)
4,120 passing yards (4,725)
1,832 rushing yards (1,928)
The Falcons were on pace for nearly 300 more total yards when we last checked on them after four games, which tells you quite a bit about how badly they’ve been struggling.
QB Matt Ryan: 354/540, 65.6% completion, 4,314 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 14 interceptions
(373/534, 69.3% completion, 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, 7 interceptions)
RB Devonta Freeman: 228 carries, 1,024 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns, 38 receptions, 274 yards
(227 carries, 1,079 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 11 touchdowns, 54 receptions, 462 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns)
RB Tevin Coleman: 126 carries, 732 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5.0 yards per carry, 32 receptions, 396 yards, 4 receiving touchdowns
(118 carries, 520 yards, 8 touchdowns, 31 receptions, 421 yards, 3 receiving touchdowns)
WR Julio Jones: 86 receptions, 1,316 yards, 15.3 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns
(83 receptions, 1,409 yards, 17 yards per reception, 6 touchdowns)
WR Mohamed Sanu: 62 receptions, 650 yards, 10.5 yards per reception, 6 touchdowns
(59 receptions, 653 yards, 11.1 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns)
WR Taylor Gabriel: 40 receptions, 490 yards, 12.3 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns
(35 receptions, 579 yards, 16.5 yards per reception, 6 touchdowns)
WR Justin Hardy: 20 receptions, 224 yards, 11.2 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns
(21 receptions, 203 yards, 9.7 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns)
WR Nick Williams: 6 receptions, 60 yards, 10 yards per reception
(5 receptions, 59 yards, 11.8 yards per reception)
WR Andre Roberts: 2 receptions, 24 yards, 12 yards per reception
WR Marvin Hall: 2 receptions, 80 yards, 40 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns
TE Austin Hooper: 50 receptions, 662 yards, 13.2 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns
(19 receptions, 271 yards, 14.3 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns)
TE Levine Toilolo: 12 receptions, 98 yards, 8.2 yards per reception
(13 receptions, 264 yards, 20.3 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns)
FB Derrick Coleman: 4 catches, 40 yards, 10 yards per reception
The offense was already on pace to fall well short of last year’s historic pace, which was neither all that surprising or disappointing. Then the Falcons scored 17, 7, 25, and 17 points in four weeks, and now they’re even further off the pace. The yardage is one thing, but what’s truly striking is that the Falcons are currently on pace to score just 340 points, which would put them a full 200 points behind 2016, one point ahead of 2015, and 41 points less than that august 2014 season that saw Mike Smith fired. Things are not going well on offense, folks!
Yet there are those pesky mitigating factors that give us hope. The Falcons still rank well on a yards per drive basis, have left dozens of points and hundreds of yards on the field thanks to poorly-timed penalties and excruciating mistakes, and still have had fewer offensive drives than just about anyone else in the NFL. I don’t know when that’s all going to turn around—it may not be in 2017—but when it does this offense has the potential to look suddenly, dramatically better.
Just don’t look for guys like Taylor Gabriel and Tevin Coleman to magically get more explosive plays, the way they did in 2016, because the way they’ve been used suggests that Steve Sarkisian can’t or won’t spring Turbo in particular the way Shanahan did a year ago.
If this offense stays at its current pace, obviously, they’ll be considered a major disappointment, and the 2017 season will likely be lost. We’ll have to hope that those persistent indicators that there’s more here than meets the eye wind up translating into better performances, starting this weekend against Dallas.