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The Falcons keep doubling down on offense because it keeps (mostly) working

We all want a great defense, but generally speaking, the Falcons have won with stellar work on the other side of the ball.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

When the Falcons have a top ten offense in terms of scoring and yardage, they make the playoffs, as they did in 2016, 2012, 2011, 2008, and 1998. The only exceptions to that rule in the last two decades came in 2017 (when they made it with the 15th scoring offense and 8th-best unit in terms of yardage), 2010 (5th, 16th) 2004 (when a good defense helped carried a middle-of-the-pack offense), and 2002 (5th, 14th), and every single one of those teams except 2004 was top ten in at least one category. They also were top ten in 2018 but tragically fell short due to a combination of poor luck, injuries, and unbelievably bad execution when they needed it least.

What that suggests is not particularly surprising: The Falcons win when they have great offenses. In contrast, the Falcons had a top ten defense in both scoring and yardage exactly twice in that same run (2017 and that magical, doomed 1998 season). I don’t need to tell you that defense has not been this team’s calling card, by this imperfect metric or any other, but the team’s managed to be relatively successful in recent years by bludgeoning other teams with their offense even so.

I’m not saying with certainty that the Falcons looked at their history in the last 20 or so seasons and realized they were best served by having an elite offense—they have very real and largely justified high hopes for a healthy version of this defense—but it does certainly buttress the idea that the team felt strongly that nothing short of an elite offense was going to help them get back in 2019. The heavy free agent and draft investments on that side of the ball did not come purely out of faith in the likes of Takk McKinley and Isaiah Oliver.

The caveat is that we don’t know how much better statistically the Falcons are going to get this year—they were top ten in 2018, despite their insistent late season farting around—but they’re certainly hoping to be better against good teams and less susceptible to being pushed around on the line in general.