5. Weak offensive line.
The offensive line isn’t providing QB Matt Ryan enough time to look for an open receiver down field. The interior of the line practically tosses out a red carpet on every passing down, while their tackles are too slow to keep faster ends from breaking into the backfield and making contact with Ryan.
The running game has also suffered due to lazy blocks within the interior line, which has kept the ground from finding daylight more than it’s been stuffed each week. The offensive line was a concern following the NFC Championship game last season, and the Falcons continue to do a poor job in getting production out of this unit.
4. Defense is too slow.
On defensive downs, whether they are pressuring, perusing, or covering, the Falcons defense has been steps behind the opposition this season. Their best pass rusher is aged veteran Osi Umenyiora with 6.5, but aside from him there are no other bodies along the defensive line worth mentioning as a pressure producer.
The secondary can’t cover their own shadows, much less opposing receivers. The Bucs are the most recent team to light up the Falcons secondary and put in a huge game at its expense. Desmond Trufant has done a decent job with deflecting passes, but he also gives up huge plays down field. Man or zone coverage, this secondary is the worst in the league.
3. Ineffective running game
Atlanta signed veteran 1000 rusher Steven Jackson during the offseason and have been stunned by his lack of production. Granted, he has only played in 6 games this season, but even his backup, Jacquizz Rodgers, has followed the same mold and has been equally worthless from the backfield.
The passing game has been the primary focus of opposing defenses since the Falcons have no running game to offer as a threat to break a game open on offense, thus the Falcons are shut down on most drives and are unable to advance the ball down field.
The Falcons could have used an injection of youth during the offseason, but they were determined to get to the Super Bowl, actually obsessed to the point they didn’t consider the fact older legs will slow down production, and teams with younger and fresher players will have a better chance of lasting 60 minutes for the win.
I’m not a fan of Mike Smith’s predictable system. I’m also not a big fan of his attitude when it comes to conditioning, as he takes a more relaxed approach versus getting the most from his players weekly. If the results this season are the best his team can offer, than the finger pointing starts with him. There’s no reason other than half hearted coaching and conditioning to explain for the Falcons going from a Super Bowl contender to a cupcake in just one season.
Atlanta’s first move this offseason will be finding a new coach and coordinators.