Why Can't The Falcons Do This?

I'm jealous. I. Am. Damn. Jealous. Thursday night I watched the end of the Browns/Broncos game. Cleveland was clinging to a three point lead when they received the kickoff with 5:17 left in the game. What proceeded to happen was the Browns drove 10 plays (8 runs/2 passes) and 66 yards to use up every second despite Denver having 3 timeouts. This was with a 3rd string running back (undrafted free agent) and missing a starting offensive tackle.

I don't have time to do the exact research, but how many times have the Falcons been in that situation, a one score lead and getting the ball back with 6:00 to play or less, in the last 4+ seasons? I would hazard a guess that has happened at least a dozen times. How many of those games have the Falcons held on to win? It feels like no more than three or four.

Why is that? Why have the Falcons failed in that situation over and over again? I want very much to hear what other fans think but here are some of my random thoughts after watching the Browns and Broncos.

PLAY CALLING: While there were only two pass plays called by the Browns, both were hugely successful and kept the Denver defense honest. The play calls were smart. Stefanski crossed up the Broncos by throwing in what seemed to be obvious run situations, including the first play of the drive which IMO put the Broncos defense on their heels. Many times that has not been the case for Atlanta. Over the years the play calls feel predictable.

EXECUTION: Not a single negative play by Cleveland on that drive. No passes behind the line of scrimmage. No plays to the sideline that stopped the clock. No incomplete or dropped passes to stop the clock. Only one inconsequential penalty when the game was already decided. How many times in those late game situations have we seen the Falcons get behind the sticks with a negative play. That results in the play calling getting even more predictable because it's 2nd & 12 or 3rd & 9.

COACHING CULTURE: I am not throwing the current regime under the bus but in my opinion through multiple head coaches and offensive coordinators since the Michael Turner era, the Falcons have never committed to being a great, or even very good, running team. Everyone understands the NFL is all about passing, but being able to run the ball WHEN other teams KNOW you want to to run the ball is still the best way to close out games. The Falcons have never reached that level. Is it the running backs? Is it offensive lines thru the years that just don't work on run blocking so they don't get good at it? Is it offensive line coaching (Browns Bill Callaghan is one of the best)? Or, as with most things like this, is it a combination of all these factors.

Two things I want to make very clear, First, I would never trade places with Browns fans. Yes, they have a good team now but they were the laughing stock of the NFL for 20 years. I would never trade the Vick & Matt Ryan eras for that pain. Secondly, I fully understand many, if not most, of the Falcons late game losses were the result of the Atlanta defense giving up the lead but the best way to prevent that from happening is to control your own destiny on offense.

My most fervent hope for the Fontenot & Arthur Smith regime is to change this narrative. Certainly we saw a glimpse of that with the game clinching 12-play TD drive against the Jets in London. Now we need to see more and against better competition.

I would be interested in hearing other theories about the Falcons late game offensive woes when compared to what the Browns did. Please expound on or disagree with some of the things I said.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>