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The Falcons reflect on a demoralizing finish to the season

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Julio Jones and Ryan Schraeder spoke about the offense’s shortcomings following their playoff exit.

Divisional Round - Atlanta Falcons v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Falcons knew what they were getting in Philadelphia. Despite the Eagles’ offensive limitations, there were other major element to their success. They know how to generate pressure with a plethora of different players. Trying to stop the deepest defensive line in the league was always going to be an uphill battle. Matt Ryan was on the receiving end of three sacks and eleven hits against the Eagles’ vaunted defense.

A combination of being overmatched in key areas, well-designed blitzes by the Eagles, and shoddy play on first down put the Falcons at a disadvantage. Although Ryan Schraeder was pleased about his performance, he was aware of what went wrong.

“I felt good for the most part,” Ryan Schraeder said. “There were a couple of plays that I’d like to have back. We came out battling hard against a really good front four. You definitely don’t want to get behind the sticks against that kind of pass rush. I felt we needed to keep the ball on the ground to keep the chains moving. Thought it was good way for us to be successful and it showed at times.”

The reliable right tackle alluded to their success on the ground. As Devonta Freeman saw his role reduced due to multiple injuries, Tevin Coleman found openings on the outside. Atlanta created solid runs on the ground during the first half, yet it came to a screeching halt. Schraeder was aware of the running game’s inefficiency in the second half. It was something that proved to be costly.

“We had a few explosive runs in the first half,” Schraeder said. “Eventually in the second half, things just slowed down. It’s hard to explain right now, since we don’t know what the film showed. We knew it was going to take four quarters to beat them. It wasn’t enough in the end. It hurts.”

Steve Sarkisian’s decision to call a sprint out to the right on fourth down created plenty of discussion. Any play call in a make-or-break situation can be classified as risky. To condense so much space near the end zone made everyone question the play call. Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan were both in favor of it. Even though Schraeder didn’t initially see how the play materialized, he approved of Sarkisian’s choice as well.

“Matt (Ryan) tried to make a play,” Schraeder said. “That’s all I could really see. We were close to hitting it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. Sometimes, that’s how football is. It’s a tough play call down there at the two-yard line with the game on the line. I felt good about it. It just didn’t go our way.”

Schraeder remains optimistic going into next season. The offensive line should remain relatively intact. That bodes well for the tight-knit unit, which is one of the main components behind a successful offensive line.

“I like where we are at as a group,” Schraeder said. “Wes (Schweitzer) really came along this year. I’m looking forward to seeing where we can take it next year. It’s good to have a close group, which I believe we have on the field and in our locker room.”

With the off-season approaching sooner than the Falcons anticipated, there will be plenty of time to evaluate what proved to be a chaotic season. Julio Jones knows that things didn’t go as planned for the offense. It was a dramatic downturn from last year’s total domination. Jones took responsibility for what went wrong, before praising the team’s commitment.

“It’s been a long season”, said Jones. “I’m proud of how everyone fought and stuck together. It’s hard to explain what we could have done better. I haven’t seen the film. I need to go watch it. The effort was there from everyone. It’s all about competing for us. Now it’s time to reflect and assess everything.”

“We know we are better than this. It’s on us to execute and take advantage of opportunities. We got to keep working together. Everyone is always talking about last year and this year. You are always going to have certain pieces that are introduced every year. We got new pieces this year. Everyone has to get on the same page and it takes time to do that. It can’t always happen in one year. I’m pleased of how we played and the effort we gave this season.”