Welcome back to our statistical projection series! This one looked pretty promising at the quarter season mark, looked downright grim at the midseason mark, and hasn’t improved all that much despite Atlanta’s largely improved performances over the last month.
Since we last checked in on this football team, they’ve won three games and lost one, which is a big positive. Unfortunately, aside from points (where they’re projected to score 25 more points over the last four games), they’ve actually regressed again from last year’s pace on offense. That’s chiefly due to Matt Ryan’s two sub-200 yard passing games. While I’m sure nobody’s gonna complain if the Falcons go 3-1 over the last four games and continue to put up anemic numbers compared to 2016, it’s just the latest reminder that thinking the Falcons would even come close to last year’s pace was a feat of optimism we probably should not have entertained.
Here’s the team and individual paces through 12 games, below.
365 points (540)
5,843 total yards (6,653)
3,993 passing yards (4,725)
1,849 rushing yards (1,928)
The Falcons are on pace for about 100 fewer yards than they were at the half season mark, though 25 more points. Steve Sarkisian’s offense has made gains in the red zone, for certain, and has generally looked like a better unit. The complete shutdown of the team’s offense by the Vikings reminds us how much work lies ahead before they can hopefully go back to taking the league by storm in 2018.
QB Matt Ryan: 347/520, 66.7% completion, 4,078 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions
(373/534, 69.3% completion, 4,944 passing yards, 38 touchdowns, 7 interceptions)
RB Devonta Freeman: 171 carries, 785 yards, 4.6 yards per carry, 7 touchdowns, 33 receptions, 192 yards
(227 carries, 1,079 yards, 4.8 yards per carry, 11 touchdowns, 54 receptions, 462 yards, 2 receiving touchdowns)
RB Tevin Coleman: 169 carries, 748 yards, 7 touchdowns, 4.3 yards per carry, 28 receptions, 327 yards, 3 receiving touchdowns
(118 carries, 520 yards, 8 touchdowns, 31 receptions, 421 yards, 3 receiving touchdowns)
RB Terron Ward: 29 attempts, 119 yards, 4.1 yards per carry, 2 receptions, 8 yards
(31 attempts, 151 yards, 4.9 yards per carry, 1 reception, 11 yards)
WR Julio Jones: 91 receptions, 1,417 yards, 15.6 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns
(83 receptions, 1,409 yards, 17 yards per reception, 6 touchdowns)
WR Mohamed Sanu: 64 receptions, 660 yards, 10.3 yards per reception, 6 touchdowns
(59 receptions, 653 yards, 11.1 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns)
WR Taylor Gabriel: 39 receptions, 442 yards, 11.4 yards per reception, 1 touchdown
(35 receptions, 579 yards, 16.5 yards per reception, 6 touchdowns)
WR Justin Hardy: 20 receptions, 195 yards, 9.7 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns
(21 receptions, 203 yards, 9.7 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns)
WR Nick Williams: 4 receptions, 40 yards, 10 yards per reception
(5 receptions, 59 yards, 11.8 yards per reception)
WR Andre Roberts: 1 reception, 12 yards, 12 yards per reception
WR Marvin Hall: 3 receptions, 80 yards, 27 yards per reception, 1 touchdown
TE Austin Hooper: 52 receptions, 584 yards, 11.2 yards per reception, 4 touchdowns
(19 receptions, 271 yards, 14.3 yards per reception, 3 touchdowns)
TE Levine Toilolo: 15 receptions, 153 yards, 10.5 yards per reception, 1 touchdown
(13 receptions, 264 yards, 20.3 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns)
FB Derrick Coleman: 2 catches, 20 yards, 10 yards per reception
Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu are due for slight upticks in production, Tevin Coleman will put up more rushing yards, and Austin Hooper is having a much more robust year, even if he has fallen far short of what I anticipated. Literally everyone else has regressed from a year ago, and in most cases, that’s probably about what we should have anticipated.
Matt Ryan is having, statistically, a season that pales in comparison to 2016. He’s had a handful of genuinely mediocre games, including last week when he was a little off target and the team got nothing going on offense. He’ll finish with numbers that look lot closer to 2015 than 2016, more than likely, albeit with fewer interceptions. It’s a shame because Ryan has been terrific many times this season without the big production to show for it.
Devonta Freeman’s production has been knocked down because he essentially missed three full games. Coleman hasn’t been quite as involved as a receiver, or as productively, but has run well when given the opportunity to do so.
Julio’s having another excellent season despite a couple of very quiet performances, aided in no small part by that explosion against the Buccaneers a couple of weeks ago. Sanu is a sure-handed first down artist doing tremendous work, Justin Hardy is turning in a season that is eerily similar to 2016 (which means we’ve probably seen about what he’s going to do in this offense), and the Falcons have gotten some small contributions from Marvin Hall and Andre Roberts. Taylor Gabriel isn’t having the big year his 2016 production would have suggested, and he actually seems like a less-than-ideal fit for Steve Sarkisian’s offense so far, and may or may not actually return in 2018. If all you can do is feed a guy ill-advised screens, you’re not maximizing him.
Hooper has had a reasonably productive year catching the ball, but he hardly ever goes over a handful of catches and 40 yards, and hasn’t been able to win with his athleticism and speed the way I thought he would. Levine Toilolo quietly is playing well yet again, while rookie Eric Saubert hasn’t been involved.
With the Saints on the docket twice, plus one more game against the Bucs and Panthers to go, perhaps the Falcons have some huge offensive explosion still to come that will carry them into the playoffs. More than likely, though, this will go down as a good but ultimately disappointing season for Steve Sarkisian’s first offense, with better things hopefully to come in 2018.