We all expected the Atlanta Falcons to once again be among the league’s best offenses in 2017, and they have delivered on that promise for the most part, overcoming some sloppy penalties and three turnovers in Detroit to deliver compelling results again.
Did you know, though, that they’ve delivered the best yards and points per drive totals in the entire NFL? I didn’t until I saw this, from Football Outsiders.
Falcons offense leads the NFL in yards per drive (41.43) and points per drive (2.86). https://t.co/SCShbTV2Tx— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) September 29, 2017
The 2016 Falcons scored 104 points through three games, thanks in large part to a complete dismantling of a pitiful New Orleans Saints defense in Week 3, while the 2017 Falcons offense has managed just 87. That’s still the fifth-highest total in the NFL, but it raises the question of how the Falcons are so, so productive when they’re scored 17 fewer points in three games thus far.
How can this be? As I see it, there’s a couple of factors here.
- The quality of offenses in the NFL is, on balance, down this year. There are a handful of truly great offenses (Chiefs, Patriots, Rams?!) and a lot of middling, injured units. The Falcons, with all their weapons, are very obviously going to be among the top offenses;
- The Falcons have found themselves dealing with some long, time-grinding drives on both sides of the ball. Their average starting field position is among the five or so worst in the entire NFL, and they’ve been on the wrong end of some truly inspired drives from the likes of Mike Glennon (?) and Matthew Stafford. They’re just not scoring as quickly and easily as they were a year ago, but they are delivering very productive drives on balance.
I’m hopeful the Falcons will be able to avoid starting from the 10 yard line for the most part going forward, but otherwise, it’s difficult to quibble with the results. Once they iron out some of their early struggles and get Ryan Schraeder back on the field, chances are good they’ll once again pass the eye test as one of the league’s premier attacks. As the stats above suggest, they’re already quietly doing great work.