Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Goober Pyle

Biggest differences between Falcons and playoff teams should be obvious

Recommended Posts

https://theathletic.com/1539835/2020/01/16/schultz-biggest-differences-between-falcons-and-playoff-teams-should-be-obvious/

 

The Falcons announced this week that they soon will unveil new uniforms, a merchandising decision that will have zero impact in any areas that actually count if one can’t see the new jerseys because they’re somewhere under a pile of opposing players.

Which leads me to this week. Atlanta was not one of the 12 teams that made the NFL playoffs, and it follows that it isn’t one of the four playing in the two conference championship games this week. Non-playoff teams this week all are attempting to answer the same question: “What makes them different from us?”

It’s a painfully obvious answer for the Falcons: One, their pass rush stinks. Two, their running game stinks. There’s enough blame to go around in those areas, from head coach Dan Quinn and his poor staffing decisions, to the coordinators and their lack of creativity and objectivity, to the front office and some poor personnel moves, to perhaps, most of all the players, many of whom underachieved.

But before jumping into the primary differences between the Falcons and the four conference finalists, here are the areas to note:

Sacks: The Falcons’ defense finished with 28 sacks, which ranked 30th. The last time they had a double-digit sack guy (Vic Beasley, 2016), they made it to the Super Bowl. The previous time they had a double-digit sack guy (John Abraham, 2012), they made it to the NFC title game. Of the top 15 sack teams, nine made the playoffs (New Orleans, San Francisco, Minnesota, New England, Kansas City, Buffalo, Tennessee, Philadelphia, Green Bay). Of the bottom 17, only three made the playoffs (Baltimore, Houston, Seattle). The four teams left in the playoffs (49ers, Chiefs, Titans, Packers) each finished with 40-plus sacks.

See, you really don’t have to go too deep into analytics.

Running game: The Falcons finished 30th in rushing at 85.1 yards per game. That’s not just about poor offensive line play or Devonta Freeman — it’s about the scheme and predictable play calling. Of the nine worst rushing teams, zero made the playoffs. Zero. Of the 14 worst, only one made the playoffs: Kansas City, who was 23rd. But the Chiefs have made up for it with a great season from quarterback Patrick Mahomes and superior play calling of Eric Bieniemy, who probably should have landed one of the head-coaching openings.

Quinn and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter often said they were striving for balance in the attack. Epic fail there. They ranked 32nd, as in last, in running game percentage (22.4). Here’s the playoff field and each team’s respective ranking in rushing yardage percentage: Baltimore (1), Buffalo (3), Tennessee (4), San Francisco (5), Minnesota (6), Seattle (7), Houston (11), Philadelphia (13), Green Bay (17),  New England (22), New Orleans (25), Kansas City (27). The three outliers all have extraordinary quarterbacks: the Patriots (Tom Brady), Saints (Drew Brees) and Chiefs. They were the only three in the bottom 15 to make the playoffs.

Now, to the four NFC and AFC finalists.

Tennessee

I’m starting with the Titans because if ever there was a blueprint for how a team can win without shiny pieces and a video game offense, it’s them. Tennessee has won consecutive playoff games at New England (20-13) and at Baltimore (28-12), limiting offenses led by Brady and Lamar Jackson, respectively, to a total of one touchdown with five turnovers, including three interceptions.

The Titans have a smart and tough head coach, Mike Vrabel, who’s one of the few Bill Belichick disciples to prove himself capable for the top job. Like Belichick, Vrabel doesn’t focus on being the players’ buddy. He doesn’t need to because he has their respect. There’s a message there.

In Week 4, when Tennessee was only 1-2 and had consecutive losses to Indianapolis and Jacksonville, it traveled to Atlanta and dumped the Falcons 24-10. Marcus Mariota threw three touchdown passes. How bad was the Falcons’ defense? In Mariota’s next two starts, both losses, he threw for zero touchdowns and two interceptions and was sacked eight times. Vrabel benched him for Ryan Tannehill. The Falcons’ loss to the Titans also might’ve been the greatest indictment of Koetter, who couldn’t find a solution for the Tennessee defense. The Titans limited the Falcons to 58 rushing yards and sacked Matt Ryan five times.

Outside of great coaching, Tennessee has two things: One, a great running back, Derrick Henry, who has rushed for 588 yards in the past three weeks, more than the 548 yards the Falcons accumulated in the first eight games, when they went 1-7; and two, a great defensive front. The pass rush produced 43 sacks (15 more than the Falcons). Tennessee twice stopped Baltimore on fourth-and-1, forced Jackson to move to outside the hash marks, where he’s less effective as a runner and passer, and stuffed the Patriots at the goal line.

San Francisco

The 49ers are next because they’re the team most Falcons fans appear to be watching. Coach Kyle Shanahan, running backs assistant Bobby Turner and running game coordinator Mike McDaniel all were on Quinn’s Super Bowl staff in 2016. (Also on the 49ers from that staff: Mike LaFleur, the passing game coordinator.)

Atlanta couldn’t stop Shanahan from taking a head coaching job, but letting Turner go was a huge loss. Word is the Falcons didn’t care for McDaniel. San Francisco finished the regular season with the No. 2 rushing attack, 144.1 yards per game and a league-high 23 touchdowns, far ahead of the Falcons’ 85.1 and 10. The 49ers are getting it done with a rotation of three running backs that includes Tevin Coleman, who also was part of the Falcons’ Super Bowl team.

Credit to San Francisco’s front office for prioritizing building the defensive front. Nick Bosa, a first-round pick, has had a monster season with nine sacks, 25 quarterback hits and 16 tackles for loss. DeForest Buckner, a first-round pick in 2016, has 19.5 sacks in the past two seasons. Dee Ford was acquired from Kansas City for a second-round pick after a Pro Bowl season. Arik Armstead, a first-round pick in 2015, has had 10 sacks in a breakout season and likely will hit it big in free agency. Those four combined for 33 sacks this season, 63 QB hits and 42 tackles for loss.

Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh almost certainly will be on the short list for head coaching jobs after next season.

Green Bay

Another Falcons coaching tie: Head coach Matt LaFleur, Mike’s brother, was the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach in 2016. A number of people wondered why the Falcons never seriously considered him to replace Shanahan as the offensive coordinator. Good question. The answer is that neither Quinn nor Thomas Dimitroff believed he was ready.

It’s possible they were right. LaFleur had been with Shanahan with three teams (Houston, Washington, Atlanta), but he never had called plays. In 2017, LaFleur became the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator, but Sean McVay called plays. In 2018, LaFleur took the Tennessee OC job under Vrabel, but the Titans, partly because of injuries, had a miserable year offensively, finishing 25th in yardage and 27th in scoring.

When Green Bay hired LaFleur to be its head coach, many were stunned. It helps to have Aaron Rodgers. But the Packers’ running game also has improved slightly, going from 104 to 112 yards per game, and it’s noteworthy that they scored ran for two touchdowns in the playoff win over Seattle. Green Bay’s rushing-yards percentage also was significantly higher than the Falcons.

Defensively, the Packers’ 19.6 points allowed during the season ranks second to only the 49ers’ 19.4 among the remaining playoff teams. The key? The Packers have two-digit sack guys, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, and a strong defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine. Bingo. Pressure and coaching combined to help Green Bay allow the sixth-lowest quarterback efficiency rating at 81.1. The Falcons, even with second-half improvement, finished with an opponents’ QB rating of 96.9 to rank 24th.

Kansas City

The Chiefs have the most elite talent of the remaining four teams with six Pro Bowlers this season, including three great offensive weapons (Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce) and former Georgia wide receiver/returner Mecole Hardman. In that sense, they’re not unlike the Falcons.

Where things change: The Chiefs have two great defensive linemen in Frank Clark and Chris Jones, who combined for 17 sacks and 34 QB hits during the season. They also have 15 players who had at least one sack. The Falcons had seven, plus two players who shared one sack. Kansas City’s defense ranked fifth in passer rating, 11th in sacks and seventh in scoring, a category in which the Falcons ranked 23rd.

In addition to a strong coaching staff, led by Andy Reid and Bieniemy, the Chiefs have been built well with strong veteran leadership, an area where the Falcons have lacked in the past three seasons.

One final statistic: Three of the four playoff teams — Green Bay (four), Kansas City (five) and Tennessee (eight) — ranked among the top five in throwing the fewest interceptions. The Falcons finished with 15 (14 by Ryan), which ranked 21st. The last time Ryan threw that many interceptions was in 2015, when the Falcons lost six straight at one point, finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Upon further reflection this is easy....,,they all have a HC who commands respect and is not afraid to administer a rectal exam w his foot either privately or publicly as nec.  They won’t allow a weak coordinator to derail the entire team and they will not tolerate less than max effort from even their most beloved stars....You gotta have a set to keep these jokers from running rough shod over you/your franchise.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, BUBBASBEANS said:

Exactly!  It’s in the water out there.....”where failure goes to fail more miserably”

I’m just past talking about **** that has been wrong for like 3 years.

I don’t need slogans I don’t need to be reading reports from media and such publications about where the Falcons have gone wrong.

I’m like no **** I already no this.I need to see some real action from inside the doors at the Branch to sought out what’s wrong and get back on track.

Time for talking is done action take action the ones who are in control of this mess.

Hence my just whatever response all the time.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Falcons do not have the personnel for strong O-line and strong running back depth right now, unless the rookies make a huge jump next season and Alex Mack & Jake Matthews are still really good, hardly anything will change next season. The Falcons need to draft a new fresh workhorse running back who weights a lot more, and can carry the load, no small light running backs. Devonta Freeman can still be a good reliable backup but I just don't see him carrying the load anymore and none of the backs behind him either. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, kiwifalcon said:

I’m just past talking about **** that has been wrong for like 3 years.

I don’t need slogans I don’t need to be reading reports from media and such publications about where the Falcons have gone wrong.

I’m like no **** I already no this.I need to see some real action from inside the doors at the Branch to sought out what’s wrong and get back on track.

Time for talking is done action take action the ones who are in control of this mess.

Hence my just whatever response all the time.

 

You and everyone else I know.   I’m tired of hearing it, discussing it and I’m really sick of these writers trying to spin it as if they’re bringing out some new revelation. The main diff btwn our team and theirs is they’ve got our best and brightest leading their teams (2ofthem) and we have the leftovers + DK.  These nimrods need to be at branch trying to find out exactly what’s being done internally to right this mess.  I’m still hoping DK will “decide to move on” shortly and spare everyone the embarrassment.  I’d rather just let Knapp run his WCO and focus on quality OL coaching to adapt their schemes and keep term same for MR.  it won’t matter if we fix everything and DK is still calling a bunch of slow vertices and no running attack.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, kiwifalcon said:

2016 we’ve been on the slide ever since and can’t get off.

Whatever man.

Keep Embracing the suck till Dan Quinn is head coach.

Again in drafts they will draft undersized, overrated players and deliver mediocrity at best.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, thofin21 said:

we suck they don't . bottom line it.

Exactly. Maybe part of the problem also is our team was actually instructed to embrace the suck, while most play-off teams are doing their damdest to completely avoid sucking altogether. B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, PokerSteve said:

Exactly. Maybe part of the problem also is our team was actually instructed to embrace the suck, while most play-off teams are doing their damdest to completely avoid sucking altogether. B)

Yes sir,  as simple as that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, mattyicefalcon said:

Keep Embracing the suck till Dan Quinn is head coach.

Again in drafts they will draft undersized, overrated players and deliver mediocrity at best.

Missing the point as per.

It has bugger all to do who there drafting it’s maximising the talent they do have.This is the issue.

For example we draft first round Olineman have a line loaded with higher tier drafted and FA talent yet our coaches can’t seem to bring this talent together,like thats going on with this team across the board.Thats the issue regardless of what you draft coaches have to coach to me that’s where the whatever comes into play.

Until these coaches workout the best useage we could be at the top of the draft picking the best players it still wouldn’t matter.You can see it teams that always pick at the top of the draft.They get first go at the best talent coming out but yet still have the same issue.Falcons are on this slippery slope.Theres plenty of talent in the building and they’ve proven it but can’t put it together consistently this is all about coaching.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everyone wants to talk about the magic bullet that is the key to winning. Everyone says you need to be able to protect the qb and pressure the other qb, but it is not that simple.

It doesn’t matter how long you can protect the QB if no one can get open. In addition to a good offensive line, you need your playmakers to get open and your qb to hit them when they are open.

It is the same way on defense. It doesn’t matter if your defensive line consistently gets pressure but your secondary can’t hold up. We need playmakers on defense period. We need to improve all phases of our defense to improve our sack numbers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
  • Create New...