There is an established sense of what the identity is for the Atlanta Falcons. It is a team that, for quite some time, has been built on the foundation of a productive offense led by a former league MVP at quarterback and the best receiver in the league.
The inclusion of a former Georgia Bulldog at running back this offseason ups the ante a bit for the Falcons offense. Still, even with all the individual standouts, the question remains: How good can the Falcons offense truly be? Let’s determine an over/under on where the Falcons offense might rank against the rest of the league for 2020.
It’s surprising and a little compelling to think of how the Falcons found themselves ranked fifth overall at the end of the season. When you account for the inconsistent play on the offensive line, the lack of a reliable run game, and the disparity in offensive play calling, it was one of the few things that was a positive for the Falcons last season, and it was enough to keep them in games despite those challenges.
Now that the presence of Todd Gurley will stroll along the Falcons sideline, the Falcons have the potential to have an even better offense this season. Let’s set the baseline of their overall offensive rank at sixth in the NFL. Assuming good health, it’s reasonable.
The case for the over
The line was a legitimate hinderance for the Falcons offense since the very first week of the 2019 season. The offensive line for the Falcons was mainly behind the team ranking 27th in the league in sacks allowed per game. They were also behind the Falcons ranking 26th in the league in rushing yards per attempt and 30th in rushing yards per game. The line itself was largely assorted for most of the season due to injuries and inept play. The depth has improved this offseason, but stability from their veteran starters is a major factor and one we’ll need to see in 2020.
It is also worth pointing out that the Falcons will play seven of the top-15 defenses from last season. Granted, they have plenty of firepower to illuminate the scoreboard but with questions marks surrounding the offensive line and the much needed improvement of the run game, it’s quite possible the offense can find themselves one dimensional again.
The case for the under
Thanks to a highly productive passing game, the Falcons were able to generate offensive success at times during the season. Quarterback Matt Ryan attempted his most passes since 2015 and ended with 4,466 yards and 26 touchdowns. While he is getting up in age, Ryan has looked fantastic in recent seasons. Receiver Julio Jones was his normal self with 1,394 yards and six touchdowns while Calvin Ridley posted 866 yards and seven touchdowns despite missing three games.
The triumvirate is expected to be a force once again but the X-factor of it all is the insertion of Gurley to the offense. Knee woes aside, Gurley has scored 54 touchdowns the last three seasons which is noteworthy on it’s own. The Falcons were also seventh in the league last season in offensive drives ending with a score. Imagine how good this offense can be with all of that ammunition on the field at once in a flexible offensive scheme that keeps defenses honest.
What’s your take?
The likes of Ryan, Jones, Ridley, Gurley, and tight end Hayden Hurst is a pretty formidable set of players. The unit was fairly handicapped last season yet still finish the season as a top five unit. A healthy and improved offensive line can change things for the Falcons and make a very good unit into a dangerous one. What is your take on where the Falcons offense may find themselves ranked in 2020?