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Some Root Cause Analysis On Why The Falcons Are 2-6


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Absolutely premature, BB.

We just don't have a very good team on the field this year, for a plethora of reasons. It may well be the most disappointing season ever when you consider the expectations going in, but it happens. Remember the '99 Birds? Just one injury (Jamal Anderson) in the 2nd game spun that team in a 180 and we went, what, 5-11 in '99 after a SB appearance in '98. Reeves was fired and we were then blessed with Mora and then Petrino. Wow. Things can go from bad to worse and when it rains, it pours.

Whatever the reason(s) for 2-6, the real story of Mike Smith and/or Thomas Dimitroff will be told next season and how well they can rebound from this three-alarm dumpster fire called the 2013 Atlanta Falcons. Another season even close to this one and I'll be calling for heads to roll too.

Me and you both, Supes. And I'm gonna let my wallet do the talking by not renewing my four season tickets.

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Offense: The Falcons have to fix the OL

Defense: The Falcons have to fix the DL

Injuries suck but the OL has performed the same no matter who is playing, we lost our starting LDE/LB/Safety, and of course Weatherspoon missed his normal 6 games but i don't think it would have mattered if they were playing

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For years the O was built to control the clock, and now we can't do it. We basically have an inverse defense to prior years, where he had a good D in terms of pts given up, thanks to turner and co. Now we try to throw 60 times a game, have poor pass protection, and are missing our top 2 wideouts. I think we have better talent on D and a better DC but they're on the field for 2/3 of the game now instead of 1/3 of the game.

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Not to mention that our rushing offense is DEAD LAST in the NFL at 64.4 YPG.

any time you replace 2 O Linemen in the NFL you are playing with fire in a methane cloud.

TD replaced Center, RG and RT.

The explosion of the Methane Gas was not a matter of if and when,

it was simply a matter of how fast you could run.

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A team without a run game should not be playing this slow on offense. Every year we here the "Here comes the No-Huddle Offense" song and dance and EVERY year we only break it out when we are playing lethargically. Here is a thought: Maybe if we played at this pace we wouldn't be so lethargic? Maybe if we jumped out to some 28-0 leads our defense wouldn't have to guess which play was coming next? As bad as our defense is, we let teams stay in the game so long that there is always a tun/pass conundrum on every play. Matt Ryan has shown he plays better with pace, we need to adopt a no huddle the rest of the season....at least without our receivers this evens the field!!!

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As a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, I thought I'd conduct some high-level root cause analysis into exactly why the Falcons are 2-6. For those of you unfamiliar with it, root cause analysis is just that: an analysis of potential causes of problems, not solutions to them. I'll leave the solutions piece to you guys to discuss in this thread, because I don't have time to conduct a full-fledged cause and effects analysis.

Offense:

Currently, the Falcons offense ranks 18th in the NFL at 22 PPG, 29th in plays from scrimmage with 496, 21st in Time Of Possession (29:38) and 12th in YPG at 353.6. Our offense is averaging 5.7 yards per play, which ranks 9th in the league. We are 20th in offense in total points at only 176. We are 20th in 1st downs per game with 20.

Problem statement: These are not awful offensive stats. Yeah, they're bad, and they could be better, that's for sure, but they're not awful. So, why are the Falcons not scoring more points? What's the solution?

Defense:

The Falcons defense is allowing opponents to convert 3rd downs on 46 percent of attempts (tied with Cleveland and second only to Minnesota at 49 percent), with a 4th down conversion percentage of 75 percent. We are 17th in the league defensively with 51 penalties (6.4 per game). We rank 7th in defense in PPG allowed at 27.2 (tied with Denver). The defense has allowed 499 plays from scrimmage, which ranks 26th in the league.

Problem statement: Unlike above, these are awful stats. Why is the defense struggling? What's the solution here?

Discuss.

Haha, BankerBird. I just got my green belt and was thinking of getting my black belt through Villanova. My company offers black belt accredidations but the training is ungodly and much more rigerous than the Villanova courses. My wife is a business improvement specialist and is really urging me to get one.

Now I will read the post and replies :-)

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As a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, I thought I'd conduct some high-level root cause analysis into exactly why the Falcons are 2-6. For those of you unfamiliar with it, root cause analysis is just that: an analysis of potential causes of problems, not solutions to them. I'll leave the solutions piece to you guys to discuss in this thread, because I don't have time to conduct a full-fledged cause and effects analysis.

Offense:

Currently, the Falcons offense ranks 18th in the NFL at 22 PPG, 29th in plays from scrimmage with 496, 21st in Time Of Possession (29:38) and 12th in YPG at 353.6. Our offense is averaging 5.7 yards per play, which ranks 9th in the league. We are 20th in offense in total points at only 176. We are 20th in 1st downs per game with 20.

Problem statement: These are not awful offensive stats. Yeah, they're bad, and they could be better, that's for sure, but they're not awful. So, why are the Falcons not scoring more points? What's the solution?

Defense:

The Falcons defense is allowing opponents to convert 3rd downs on 46 percent of attempts (tied with Cleveland and second only to Minnesota at 49 percent), with a 4th down conversion percentage of 75 percent. We are 17th in the league defensively with 51 penalties (6.4 per game). We rank 7th in defense in PPG allowed at 27.2 (tied with Denver). The defense has allowed 499 plays from scrimmage, which ranks 26th in the league.

Problem statement: Unlike above, these are awful stats. Why is the defense struggling? What's the solution here?

Discuss.

How bout just saying they are not very good.

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Great post BB!!

I still don't get how our D has not improved in the slightest, under TD and Smith. My guess is it has to be bad draft picks and poor coaching.

Smith and Nolan have decades of football experience and yet we are regressing. Makes no sense.

Blank, TD and Smith need to truly reevaluate their "process". Cause it is severely flawed.

Sdogg so under Nolan last year you don't think the defense played to a pretty decent level last year is that what your saying????

Take away there 2 most mobile pieces on defense and basically replace them with in experienced rook's is the issue.

Also having a guy like Samuel hobbled for basically the whole season doesn't help aswell.

I think your a little off on the not improved part as you well no last season they were lights out against some of the best QB's in the league.

Again and everyone know's it,INJURY has been the killer for us on both sides of the ball.I know its been beaten to death but the guys we have lost are some of the best in the league in there positions and we have just found it really tough to over come that.

Edited by kiwifalcon
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Okay, BankerBird. I would revise you problem statements to focus more on the outcome or results. So just looking at offense I would use the problem statement "Why are the Falcons not scoring enough points to win games". I would then begin with the 5 why's.

1. We are not able to get the ball into the end zone. Why?

2. We are not effective in the red zone. Why?

3. We have plays either by design or personnel that are not getting the job done. Why?

4. We have a coaching staff that has either not sufficiently developed/prepared the players to succeed in the red zone; have not successfully coached in the red zone; have not put, or have the correct personnel, to suceed in the redzone. Why?

5. The coaching staff has not been sufficiently empowered or held accountable for their decisions.

There is no way I would run a root cause on a team with coaches in their 1st year, but this is the HC, OC and even the GM's 2nd year minimal (and sixth for Smitty and TD). Ultimately, we should not be put into the position we have been put into offensively. The injuries are a mitigating factor. A big one, so we would really need to look at those and reconcile against the problem statement.

  • The loss of both starting OT's puts more pressure on the interior linemen to produce and allows for defenses to clog the middle and stress the C and both OG.
  • The loss of starting OT's allows for mistakes to be made by inexperienced replacements
  • The loss of both the starting RB and FB makes the replacements/lesser equiped back-ups more of a liability
  • The loss of both starting WR put's pressure on other recievers to excel
  • The loss of both OT's, the entire starting backfield and both starting WR's puts pressure on the QB to compensate and force the game.
  • The loss of all above players forces the coaching staff to adapt quickly and adjust the players to succeed.

Ultimately, from the 5 why's and evaluating the extenuating circumstances I think the root cause of our poor offensive play ultimately boils down to coaching. Now, what about the coaching has been the issue. In essence it seems that the majority of the problem lies on the OC for not adapting quick enough, especially with injuries. DK tried to compensate for poor Oline play and no rushing attack with quick screens, but teams have adapted by putting enough pressure on Ryan so that he has to throw within 2 seconds and the are taking away the screen game now.

Ultimately, this boils down to the HC either not empowering the OC and/or offense to get the job done or the owner/GM for not empowering the HC to get the job done. Injuries are a mitigating factor, but they are not a one-off. We should have been able to compensate to some extent.

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Okay, BankerBird. I would revise you problem statements to focus more on the outcome or results. So just looking at offense I would use the problem statement "Why are the Falcons not scoring enough points to win games". I would then begin with the 5 why's.

1. We are not able to get the ball into the end zone. Why?

2. We are not effective in the red zone. Why?

3. We have plays either by design or personnel that are not getting the job done. Why?

4. We have a coaching staff that has either not sufficiently developed/prepared the players to succeed in the red zone; have not successfully coached in the red zone; have not put, or have the correct personnel, to suceed in the redzone. Why?

5. The coaching staff has not been sufficiently empowered or held accountable for their decisions.

There is no way I would run a root cause on a team with coaches in their 1st year, but this is the HC, OC and even the GM's 2nd year minimal (and sixth for Smitty and TD). Ultimately, we should not be put into the position we have been put into offensively. The injuries are a mitigating factor. A big one, so we would really need to look at those and reconcile against the problem statement.

  • The loss of both starting OT's puts more pressure on the interior linemen to produce and allows for defenses to clog the middle and stress the C and both OG.
  • The loss of starting OT's allows for mistakes to be made by inexperienced replacements
  • The loss of both the starting RB and FB makes the replacements/lesser equiped back-ups more of a liability
  • The loss of both starting WR put's pressure on other recievers to excel
  • The loss of both OT's, the entire starting backfield and both starting WR's puts pressure on the QB to compensate and force the game.
  • The loss of all above players forces the coaching staff to adapt quickly and adjust the players to succeed.

Ultimately, from the 5 why's and evaluating the extenuating circumstances I think the root cause of our poor offensive play ultimately boils down to coaching. Now, what about the coaching has been the issue. In essence it seems that the majority of the problem lies on the OC for not adapting quick enough, especially with injuries. DK tried to compensate for poor Oline play and no rushing attack with quick screens, but teams have adapted by putting enough pressure on Ryan so that he has to throw within 2 seconds and the are taking away the screen game now.

Ultimately, this boils down to the HC either not empowering the OC and/or offense to get the job done or the owner/GM for not empowering the HC to get the job done. Injuries are a mitigating factor, but they are not a one-off. We should have been able to compensate to some extent.

Excellent response, Schwarzenegger321! biggrin.png I follow your logic, but, if I were to test your hypothesis, I would ask you one question: what role does our depth - and the non-performance/under-performance of those players - play and to what extent are they responsible for our 2-6 record? "Empowerment" (or lack therof) of the HC and his staff is not really something that can be measured in terms of data (either continuous or attribute) because we haven't yet sampled that population (e.g. coaches, GM, etc.) However, we do have data on the performance of those players on the depth chart. So, with that in mind, does not our 2-6 record go beyond the GM, the coaches, the injuries and, perhaps, to a lack of talent at the 2nd and 3rd levels of the depth chart? Now that I've seen those guys play, I see that also as an issue needing to be addressed even after our first string is back at full strength. Thoughts?

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Excellent response, Schwarzenegger321! biggrin.png I follow your logic, but, if I were to test your hypothesis, I would ask you one question: what role does our depth - and the non-performance/under-performance of those players - play and to what extent are they responsible for our 2-6 record? "Empowerment" (or lack therof) of the HC and his staff is not really something that can be measured in terms of data (either continuous or attribute) because we haven't yet sampled that population (e.g. coaches, GM, etc.) However, we do have data on the performance of those players on the depth chart. So, with that in mind, does not our 2-6 record go beyond the GM, the coaches, the injuries and, perhaps, to a lack of talent at the 2nd and 3rd levels of the depth chart? Now that I've seen those guys play, I see that also as an issue needing to be addressed even after our first string is back at full strength. Thoughts?

Good points.

If I were were to run a Kaizen on the Falcons offense I would definitly take the lack of depth of replacements and the lack of experience on the Oline into account. Contributing to that are two major causalities. The first is lack of depth caused by poor/ineffective draft picks or free agent pick-ups and the second is the cap and how it affects our ability to bring in depth. Both of these fall squarely on the shoulders of the GM, but it is the HC and OCs responsibility to adapt the game plan to the players available and to the teams being played. Ultimately I believe it is the HC's job to manage upward as well as lead the team and manage downward. I believe Smitty is having issues doing this. I don't put the majority of blame on TD because in the Falcons system the GM actually listens to the coach and fills needs based upon his assessment of the team's needs. But ultimately it is TDs responsibility, again in our system, to make changes to the coaching staff is defined measurables are constantly missed.

I think Smitty is a competent coach; however, again using the Kaizen model if I were to go into problem solving mode the first thing that would jump out is depth on the oline needs to be immediately addressed and closely followed by adaptiveness by the coaches to come up with a more dynamic game plan to work to our strengths, even when we have injuries.

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Good points.

If I were were to run a Kaizen on the Falcons offense I would definitly take the lack of depth of replacements and the lack of experience on the Oline into account. Contributing to that are two major causalities. The first is lack of depth caused by poor/ineffective draft picks or free agent pick-ups and the second is the cap and how it affects our ability to bring in depth. Both of these fall squarely on the shoulders of the GM, but it is the HC and OCs responsibility to adapt the game plan to the players available and to the teams being played. Ultimately I believe it is the HC's job to manage upward as well as lead the team and manage downward. I believe Smitty is having issues doing this. I don't put the majority of blame on TD because in the Falcons system the GM actually listens to the coach and fills needs based upon his assessment of the team's needs. But ultimately it is TDs responsibility, again in our system, to make changes to the coaching staff is defined measurables are constantly missed.

I think Smitty is a competent coach; however, again using the Kaizen model if I were to go into problem solving mode the first thing that would jump out is depth on the oline needs to be immediately addressed and closely followed by adaptiveness by the coaches to come up with a more dynamic game plan to work to our strengths, even when we have injuries.

Would going to the Dome be in the Gemba or would you need to be in the locker room? The NFL is such a hierarchical model, that I am not sure even Smitty can stop the line.

If your hypothesis is a lack of talent in our 2nd and 3rd stringers, I think a review of our preseason records and results of the last two years would have created a fear of the worse. High Reliability Organizations are preoccupied with failure. We are one of the least aggressive organizations in targeting veteran cuts after preseason. We are always "Trying to Develop our young guys" That brings to bear the question (especially on the Defensive Line): Why are we always "trying" and never succeeding?

I am not an anti Dimitroff troll, like many others here, I don't focus on why we didn't draft guys we only had a single shot at or who went before us. I am more concerned in why can't we make our own Charles Johnson, Paul Kruger or Geno Atkins, Carl Nicks, Jordan Mills, etc.?

I propose that our coaching failure is in the development area more than any other place.

Edited by jazzyburrell
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I think our season record is like a snowball going downhill:

-gambling on this o line being together long enough to gel - and right out the box losing Johnson

-Kontz showing flashes but still having a lot to learn

- Holmes being out of shape

- Baker getting hurt

-losing Ewing

- losing Jackson

-Losing Julio

-losing Roddy

-losing Weatherspoon

-losing Nicolas

-Losing Bierman

the list goes on - I think after 5 seasons we know what to expect from this coaching staff. I dont think they have ever came close to experiencing this level of adversity. They simply dont have the experience and talent on the field.

The dynamic we had in recent years plus great QB play helped cover deficiencies - a bend but dont break defense that gave up tons of yards is broken .The timeof possesion battle that we have won in the past is being lost the last couple of weeks as teams are adjusting and taking away playmakers - remember pick your poison ?? Well most of the poison is either injured or out for the year.

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this Carolina game is hard to watch because we were shooting ourselves in the foot almost all game. say what you want about lack of talent, if Ryan could have this game back, he would in a heartbeat and we'd win this game. there were several plays were Ryan not only had time to make throws, but if he hits the open receiver it was 6. there were about 5 runs were if SJ39 hit a particular hole he would picked up big gains. there were plays were Carolina figured out our quick pass game plan and simply sat on routes. we didn't adjust to it. there were 2 plays were Ryan saw the blitz as in IT WAS FRICKEN OBVIOUS THE BLITZ WAS COMING and he didn't check out of it. watching this particular game almost makes me think we just threw in the towel. one thing is for certain, I can't blame this game on Koetter because if we would've executed, we probably would have put up about 31 points

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Boom! And THAT is THE question on offense!

As a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, I thought I'd conduct some high-level root cause analysis into exactly why the Falcons are 2-6. For those of you unfamiliar with it, root cause analysis is just that: an analysis of potential causes of problems, not solutions to them. I'll leave the solutions piece to you guys to discuss in this thread, because I don't have time to conduct a full-fledged cause and effects analysis.

Offense:

Currently, the Falcons offense ranks 18th in the NFL at 22 PPG, 29th in plays from scrimmage with 496, 21st in Time Of Possession (29:38) and 12th in YPG at 353.6. Our offense is averaging 5.7 yards per play, which ranks 9th in the league. We are 20th in offense in total points at only 176. We are 20th in 1st downs per game with 20.

Problem statement: These are not awful offensive stats. Yeah, they're bad, and they could be better, that's for sure, but they're not awful. So, why are the Falcons not scoring more points? What's the solution?

Defense:

The Falcons defense is allowing opponents to convert 3rd downs on 46 percent of attempts (tied with Cleveland and second only to Minnesota at 49 percent), with a 4th down conversion percentage of 75 percent. We are 17th in the league defensively with 51 penalties (6.4 per game). We rank 7th in defense in PPG allowed at 27.2 (tied with Denver). The defense has allowed 499 plays from scrimmage, which ranks 26th in the league.

Problem statement: Unlike above, these are awful stats. Why is the defense struggling? What's the solution here?

Discuss.

Because when the Falcons get in the Redzone the goal line becomes a....

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The golden rule of team building in the NFL is to hoard high and mid-round draft picks and build via the draft. Picks are critical to good cap management and hoarding them saves you a ton of cap space, whilst also giving you more chances - and more scope for error - in the lottery of the draft.

The process was derailed when we started trading picks away on draft day. The trades we've made from 2011-13 left us without enough high and mid round picks to have any realistic chance of filling all of our needs. This happened at the same time that we were under increasing cap pressure, as the players from TD's good early drafts became eligible for free agency and thus much more expensive to retain.

That's a lethal combination, that left several critical needs (including needs on both trenches) having to go unaddressed, or that left us trying to fix them with cheap 30 something FA's or with late round picks and UFAs who were inevitably of limited ability.

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