Chronicling the Falcons’ many red zone failures is not particularly fun, but it remains the #1 area of improvement for Atlanta heading into 2018. They simply can’t miss so many opportunities inside the 20 and expect to win double digit games in the most competitive NFC in recent memory.
While the Falcons need to get better more or less across the board, one stat really did stick out like a sore thumb when Pro Football Focus mentioned it last week: Matt Ryan’s completion percentage, which was under 50% in the red zone in 2017. I probably don’t need to tell you that was the worst of his career.
There are myriad reasons this happened. A big one, as Falcons Wire notes, is that Steve Sarkisian’s red zone play calling was about as competent as a second grade production of Hamlet. Another is that Ryan simply could not hit Julio Jones in the red zone to save his life, with both players sharing some blame there. The Falcons lacked reliable targets in the red zone last year, they lacked a credible ground game at times inside the 20, and Ryan himself had some really questionable throws. Add it all together and you get a 17% decrease in his completion percentage, and the Falcons get much, much worse at scoring.
The good news, as we’ve noted in the past, is that the Falcons appear to have upgraded their roster, and they are entering Sark’s second year with this roster. That should mean some improvement, even if it’s just sort of caused by the talent upgrade, and 2017 should (and hopefully will forever) remain Ryan’s worst year in the red zone. The team’s season may very well depend on it.