The last time the Falcons were top ten in both offensive yards produced and defensive yards allowed, they were capping off a 14-2 season back in 1998. We all remember what Atlanta did in the postseason then, right?
Now, nearly 20 years later, the Falcons have done it again. Atlanta finished the year 8th in total offense and 9th in total defense, an impressive showing that is sort of surprising after all the struggles this team underwent en route to 10-6. It suggests that either the Falcons were lucky to finish top ten or more productive than their record suggests. I prefer the latter.
Falcons finish in Top 10 in both scoring defense and total defense for the first time since 1998, according to a team official. First year defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel makes a difference. That '98 team went to the Super Bowl, by the way. https://t.co/n9h2C9UdiL— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) January 1, 2018
As McClure noted in this tweet, Marquand Manuel appears to have made a big difference this year, along with improving young talent on the other side of the ball. The Falcons got relatively few turnovers but finished the year with 39 sacks, and were very stingy against opposing passing games most of the year. The run defense even improved mightily toward the end of the season, which is an achievement in and of itself.
The offense, meanwhile, managed to chew up a lot of yards without a corresponding surge in scoring, which is not surprising after a historic 2016 season. The team’s inability to score cost them games this year, but they still strung together a lot of productive drives that fizzled out in frustrating fashion. With their talent, there was potential for much more, but it’s still a very respectable finish.
With their talent base and these results, there’s certainly the potential that the Falcons will transform into the juggernaut they could have been this year in time for the postseason. For now, though, bask in a rare feat the Falcons are completing for the first time in nearly 20 years.