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Falcons defense is giving opposing quarterbacks their best stats of the season

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How do quarterbacks fair against the Falcons compared to every other team?

Tennessee Titans v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

On September 29th, Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 66.7% of his 27 passes for 227 yards, 3 touchdowns, and took 0 sacks for an absurd 129.7 quarterback rating. The Titans benched Mariota on October 13th for Ryan Tannehill. Kyler Murray had only 4 touchdowns in his 5 NFL games before tossing 3 against the Falcons.

Is the Falcons defense this absurdly bad? Fans have been aware that quarterbacks have been better against the Falcons. The defense has been a giant problem the entire season, somehow looking worse despite new additions and healthy veterans. We are wondering just how much better the opposing quarterbacks have been against the Falcons compared to the rest of their games.

Let’s take a look at that side-by-side and find out what sort of analysis we can find in the stats. We have compared the opposing quarterback against the Falcons and their performance for the remaining four to five games the quarterback played against non-Falcons defenses.

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QB Completions Attempts Yards Percentage Average TD INT LNG Sack
QB Completions Attempts Yards Percentage Average TD INT LNG Sack
Kirk Cousins Average 20 29 255.52 68.97% 8.8 1.6 0.6 62 2.2
Cousins v. Falcons 8 10 98 80.00% 9.8 1 0 31 1
Carson Wentz Average 21.2 34.2 245.4 61.99% 7.2 2.2 0.2 53 1.4
Wentz v. Falcons 25 43 231 58.10% 5.4 1 2 43 3
Jacoby Brisset Average 20 32.5 188 65.57% 5.8 2 0.75 48 1.25
Brissett v. Falcons 28 37 310 75.70% 8.4 2 0 35 1
Marcus Mariota Average 15.2 26.4 190.4 57.57% 7.21 0.8 0.4 75 5
Mariota v. Falcons 18 27 227 66.67% 8.4 3 0 55 0
Deshaun Watson Average 22.4 33.6 243.6 66.67% 7.25 1.4 0.6 54 3.6
Watson v. Falcons 28 33 426 84.80% 12.9 5 0 51 0
Kyler Murray Average 25.2 40.2 264.8 62.69% 6.6 0.8 0.8 54 4.2
Murray v. Falcons 27 37 340 73.00% 9.2 3 0 58 0
Avg 124 195.9 231.2866667 63.30% 7.08 1.466666667 0.558333333 2.941666667
DQ 134 187 272 71.66% 8.73 2.5 0.333333333 0.833333333

What does this stat scouting show?

First, Kirk Cousins throws off the numbers because he barely passed the ball.

Second, the Falcons defense was legitimately oustanding against Carson Wentz. Wentz took 3 sacks, threw 2 picks, completed less than his season average, and threw for far less than his average yards per attempt. It was a great showing by the defense and the Falcons won. We have not seen that team since.

Third, every other week shows one clear sign: The Falcons defense is egregiously bad. Even with Cousins in the calculation, the Falcons allow quarterbacks an extra 41 passing yards, 8.35% completion percentage, 1.65 yards per attempt, over 1 touchdown, less than .25 fewer interceptions, and over 2 fewer sacks per game.

Atlanta opponents complete an average 63.3% of their passes for 7.08 yards per attempt and 231.29 yards, 1.47 touchdowns, 0.56 interceptions, and 2.94 sacks when they don’t play the Falcons. When they play against Dan Quinn, the same quarterbacks average 71.66% of their passes for 8.73 yards per attempt and 272 yards, 2.5 touchdowns, 0.33 interceptions, and 0.83 sacks.

As a reminder, this compares the same quarterbacks averaged out in their non-Falcons games. As expected, when you look at nearly every non-Wentz game, the Falcons are a clear outlier. This should not be terribly surprising. The Falcons have 1 sack since they played Wentz, and 0 interceptions since they played Wentz.

Something is seriously wrong in Flowery Branch. Matt Ryan cannot win, even with great performances, if his defense gives the opposing quarterback a serious advantage from their prior weeks. We are far past some statistically insignificant differences. Quinn’s system is dangerously broken. The Falcons will struggle to win anything if the defense remains this inept.