Week 4 is now behind us. There are still 12 games remaining on the schedule for the Falcons, but somehow it seems like the season might already be circling the drain. Atlanta is 1-3, and has been thoroughly outplayed in the majority of their games. There’s plenty of blame to go around, as both the offense and the defense have struggled. But, to me, the utter failure of the offense on Sunday (and in Week 1, for that matter) is a much bigger issue.
This is a Falcons team that’s been built to win by scoring points. There’s clearly a massive investment at QB, where Matt Ryan should be playing better football and not turning the ball over at such a high rate. The offensive line has seen an infusion of both free agent spending and high draft picks, although one of those picks is currently on IR. Atlanta has the best WR trio in the NFL, and an emerging threat at TE in Austin Hooper. RB is perhaps the most questionable position right now, as Devonta Freeman has struggled early in the season.
Why, then, are the Falcons so inept on offense? In Week 1, there were ample excuses. It was a road game in a very tough environment. The Vikings have a great defense. It was the first game of the season and the offense needed time to jell. All of those things are true, and I think we were wise to withhold judgement on the unit for a few more weeks.
We’ve now seen three more performances from this offense. In Week 2 against the Eagles, I have no complaints outside of Ryan’s turnovers. That was a pretty solid performance otherwise against what appears to be a middling defense. In Week 3, we saw polarizing play: bad execution and a turnover in the first half, followed by an elite, 21-point effort in the second half. Against Tennessee in Week 4, we simply saw all bad: an early turnover derailed things, and the offense simply couldn’t get it done when it mattered.
Where do you point the finger? Clearly, Matt Ryan must play better going forward. His turnovers have certainly made things more difficult for the team. The offensive line played a mediocre game against the Titans, but that isn’t entirely surprising when you’ve got your third-string RG in the game. The running game has been extremely inconsistent, too. It may be time to seriously consider giving Ito Smith a shot at the starting job, with Freeman looking just a step too slow, or slightly too hesitant with his cuts.
The bottom line is that this offense has the talent. I think they also have enough talent on defense to be at least competent, but that’s another discussion. We can all agree that the talent level on offense is sky-high, so why isn’t this team putting up 28+ points per game?
I personally have a pretty good idea about that—which I’m going to expand upon in a more in-depth piece tomorrow—but I want to hear what you think. Where do you place the blame for the Falcons’ offensive ineptitude thus far? Is it the players, the coaching staff, the scheme, the defenses they’ve faced, or some combination of those factors?