We still don’t know if Steve Sarkisian will prove to be a particularly prudent hire or the kind of lousy one that shakes faith in Dan Quinn’s ability to assemble a coaching staff. After one year of Kyle Shanahan, we certainly thought things looked grim, and everyone’s hopeful we’ll see a similar turnaround for Sarkisian.
The lack of certainty regarding Sark’s play calling and the offense’s fortunes this year represents one of the few major question marks for this Falcons team, however. That’s something Bleacher Report acknowledged when they selected Steve Sarkisian as Atlanta’s potential “fatal flaw” for the 2018 season.
Mind you, Atlanta wasn’t a bad offensive team in 2017—it ranked eighth in the NFL, at 364.8 yards per game. But that’s 51 fewer yards per game than Atlanta’s second-ranked offense amassed two seasons ago.
The only big difference? A change in offensive coordinators, from Kyle Shanahan to Steve Sarkisian.
Now, it’s possible that Atlanta’s offense will take a step forward in Sarkisian’s second year. But as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution told The Wake Up Call on ESPN Charlotte radio, Sarkisian’s on a relatively short leash as the 2018 season nears.
Whether Sark actually is in danger of being fired if the Falcons get off to a slow start or not, it’s hard to quibble with the idea that he’s just about the only reason besides injury to worry about this offense being productive. The team just didn’t have a consistent juggernaut a year ago, and while Sark almost certainly will be more prepared and more confident in his second season, he does not have Shanahan’s long history as an NFL offensive coordinator to fall back on. He does have great players across the offense, however, which means he should be able to put a good offense on the field and will have very few excuses if he does not.
I think Sark will be fine, as I’ve said more or less since the season ended. But I’m not going to blame anyone for being concerned about what this offense is going to look like after 2017, and I can’t quibble with the idea that if Sarkisian isn’t up to snuff, that he could well prove to be a flaw that drags down a team that looks mighty impressive on paper.