The Atlanta Falcons took a pretty sizable step back in scoring last season, but their yards per play remained impressive despite serious red zone issues. The team was still in the top 10 in yards, and was just a skip and a jump away from top 5. Points? Well, that was not nearly as good, landing at spot 15.
We have spent some time blaming Steve Sarkisian, but Pro Football Focus noticed a drastic drop in efficiency late last season.
#Falcons offense yards per play in 2017:— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) May 14, 2018
Weeks 1-4: 6.1
Weeks 6-9: 6.0
Wks 10-13: 5.8
Wks 14-17: 5.4
In Playoffs: 4.7
This is remarkable consistent from week 1 to 13, but the end of the year took a nosedive. Our best guess? Andy Levitre got hurt against the Minnesota Vikings, and played only five snaps the last four games of the year. Atlanta was forced to play the uninspiring duo Wes Schweitzer and Ben Garland, who had to stop Gerald McCoy, Kawann Short, Aaron Donald, and Fletcher Cox down the stretch. It did not work well.
Devonta Freeman sprained multiple ligaments in his knee, and did not look right against the Eagles. His poor performance is in part due to injury, and in part to facing some stout front sevens with subpar blocking.
Luckily, Levitre should be back at full strength by training camp. What is a little concerning is both Levitre and presumed starter Brandon Fusco have concerning injury histories. The main backup will be the best of Schweitzer, Garland, and Sean Harlow. One bad play and we could see another significant drop off in offensive efficiency.