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What are the keys to success this season for Falcons?


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The Falcons will not be a good team in 2022, but there are different forms of success. Most fans in Atlanta would consider anything less than making the postseason a failure, but the coaching staff and front office don’t see it that way. Success can be defined in many ways, but establishing the culture and taking the necessary steps in individual development must be the team’s top priorities.

Good Morning Football’s Tom Pelissero recently broke down some keys to a successful season for the Falcons:

 
  • Step 1: Have QB plan and execute
  • Step 2: Be bullies
  • Step 3: Be good enough on defense

Step 1

“It’s been an unusual offseason for the Atlanta Falcons,” Pelissero says, via Heavy. “They tried to get Deshaun Watson. They made a push for him. So did a couple of other teams within the division: the Saints, the Panthers. In the end, that also led to them parting ways with Matt Ryan–they traded him away to the Colts. They end up with Marcus Mariota and third-round pick Desmond Ridder. So, Step 1: get the quarterback room right.

 

Have a plan there and execute it, which Arthur Smith has been really good with the offense, really good with quarterbacks throughout the course of his career. He was with Marcus Mariota in Tennessee, he knows what he can do. Mariota’s issue has been he has not been able to stay healthy. It’s always a hamstring or a thumb or something going on. Keeping him on the field while Desmond Ridder has time to develop, being able to manage the expectations when you’ve go that young quarterback the moment things go wrong. Everybody wants to see him on the field––getting that room right is key,” Pelissero concludes, via Heavy.

The Falcons will likely head into the season with Mariota as the starter, given his experience advantage over Ridder, but the offense that Arthur Smith builds will complement the skillsets of both candidates.

[Matt] Ryan is the more cerebral, experienced, and accurate quarterback. But one characteristic the other two have that makes them superior is their mobility. Ryan has long been knocked for his inability to scramble, despite being an excellent pocket passer. It’s one skill that Arthur Smith should be able to leverage, regardless of which player starts this season.

In a radio interview with Andy Bunker on 92.9 The Game, Smith spoke on the subject, stating the offense will look a bit different with the mobility of the quarterbacks on the team. The Falcons’ offense will look more similar to those in Tennessee under Smith — zone rushing attack with play action rollouts built off the run. With Mariota and Ridder in Atlanta, the Falcons will continue to stress the focus of getting their passers out of the pocket.

It will also give Smith the ability in short-yardage situations to use the quarterback as an additional runner, something he did sparingly last season with the far-less-mobile Ryan. It’ll be interesting to see what Smith can accomplish with Mariota and Ridder.

The Falcons were at the bottom of the league in designed rollouts last season, but Falcons fans can expect them to be near the top in 2023. It’ll look like a much different offense, and it’s up to Smith to help cover up the deficiencies of Mariota and Ridder through play design and calling.

 

Step 2

“Second part: be bullies. Last year, the first pick of the Arthur Smith era, they draft 6-foot-6 Kyle Pitts. They’re not satisfied with that, so this year all of these big receivers, all of these fast guys, they go, ‘we’re gunna go get 6-foot-4 Drake London out of USC. We’re gunna double-down on the twin towers designing an offense that is based around that.’ Again, this is a strength for Arthur Smith who made the most of what he had a year ago and have those two big dudes, that’s going to create some mismatches ideal for them. They’re not going to necessarily beat you with speed but in other ways,” Pelissero continues, via Heavy.

It’s clear what type of pass catcher the Falcons are going to attract in future drafts and free agency periods. Atlanta’s stable of pass catchers more closely resembles a basketball team than football. Not only are Pitts and London big targets, Bryan Edwards, who the team traded for earlier this offseason, stands 6′3″. Auden Tate stands 6′5″, and Anthony Firkser is 6′3″ — you get the picture.

 

Step 3

“Last year, the Falcons had 17 sacks. That was the lowest in the NFL. That was the lowest for the Falcons since 1987. They went out and drafted a couple of guys. Arnold Ebiketie is there now. DeAngelo Malone out of Western Kentucky. They’ve got to find a way––just be good enough on defense, especially in a division where you have to face quarterbacks like Tom Brady a couple of times a year,” Pelissero finishes, via Heavy.

Atlanta boasted one of the worst defenses in the entire league last season — notoriously tallying 18 sacks, fewer than the last place Eagles by 11. However, the unit ranked near the bottom of the league in most defensive metrics — 29th in points per game (27.0), 26th in yards allowed (6,194), and 30th in third down success rate (48.4%). Dean Pees believes part of the reason for the Falcons’ struggles was that he couldn’t run the entire playbook.

 

“I kind of know [that] the guys that are back kind of know what to expect,” Pees said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “You know what we’re really looking for. Last year, I’d say we put in, at the end of the year, maybe 60 percent of the defense that we really want to run. This year, it’s going to be 100 percent.”

I don’t know if opening up the entire playbook will have a bigger impact than individual development in young players like Richie Grant, Jaylinn Hawkins, Ade Ogundeji, and Ta’Quon Graham, but it should certainly help confuse opposing offenses

 

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I didn't read each step, but the overall steps sound good to me.  I don't expect this team to be "playoffs" or bust.  We are NOT that good despite the record last year.  Personnel has to improve every year.

100% agree, Falcons have to find a QB that can guide this team for 8 to 10 years.  If Mariota is going to cover 5 years of that cool.  If Ridder proves to be the man in 2 seasons or so, cool.  If its another QB drafted in 2023 or 2024, cool.  We just have to get that position right.

Our offensive and defensive lines have to be able to push and move people around.  If we can't do that, we will not be successful.

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13 minutes ago, HASHBROWN3 said:

The Falcons were at the bottom of the league in designed rollouts last season, but Falcons fans can expect them to be near the top in 2023. It’ll look like a much different offense, and it’s up to Smith to help cover up the deficiencies of Mariota and Ridder through play design and calling.

This is where the offense will live and die in 22. If AS can use their wheels to get them easy targets to throw to, and options to get yards with their legs, we can go far. I really think it has the potential to make our red zone attack much better.

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For us to be improved, two things have to happen to spin everything off.  One, the offensive line has to be an above average unit.  If we can be that we can run the ball and maybe keep Mariota upright.  Secondly, the defensive line has to be stout and allow the linebackers and edge to make plays.  We have to run the ball and control the run.  That also allows us to manage the clock.  All very basic, football 101 actions that can make any team better.

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The keys are evaulating properly what they have on hand this season so that they can plan accordingly for when Ryan's cap hit is gone in 2023 and go into free agency that season and the draft with the ability to make major adjustments to the roster.  This season is a wash.

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2 hours ago, thanat0s said:

This is where the offense will live and die in 22. If AS can use their wheels to get them easy targets to throw to, and options to get yards with their legs, we can go far. I really think it has the potential to make our red zone attack much better.

I'm going to miss Ryan, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Mariota or Ridder can do with their mobility and better fit with Smith's offensive scheme. Clearly the offense has more options when your QB is not confined to a 3-foot circle 5-yards behind the LOS looking for a WR. As you mention, getting TD's rather than FG's in the Red Zone should unquestionably be easier this season. 

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16 hours ago, PokerSteve said:

I'm going to miss Ryan, but I'm looking forward to seeing what Mariota or Ridder can do with their mobility and better fit with Smith's offensive scheme. Clearly the offense has more options when your QB is not confined to a 3-foot circle 5-yards behind the LOS looking for a WR. As you mention, getting TD's rather than FG's in the Red Zone should unquestionably be easier this season. 

That is a myth though regarding Ryan. 

Regardless of his "foot speed" the guy was flat out fantastic on the move. Just need to look at his numbers under Shanahan where the pocket was always moving. That vanilla HS scheme we ran last season was all on Smith. Ryan did not limit Smith's offense last season, Smith did and was called out many many time on the se forums. It was just chosen to be forgotten around here post draft euphoria😄.

Regardless, no offense will work (consistently) when the Oline is as bad as it was all season last year. Remember, there was apparently zero growth from game 1 to game 17, and that should absolutely scare the **** out of everyone.

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1 hour ago, Swayzee said:

That is a myth though regarding Ryan. 

Regardless of his "foot speed" the guy was flat out fantastic on the move. Just need to look at his numbers under Shanahan where the pocket was always moving. That vanilla HS scheme we ran last season was all on Smith. Ryan did not limit Smith's offense last season, Smith did and was called out many many time on the se forums. It was just chosen to be forgotten around here post draft euphoria😄.

Regardless, no offense will work (consistently) when the Oline is as bad as it was all season last year. Remember, there was apparently zero growth from game 1 to game 17, and that should absolutely scare the **** out of everyone.

Agree. Ryan's problem wasn't foot speed, or not being able to throw accurately when on the move. He had absolutely no problem excelling in Shannie's play-action system. The problem was Ryan is a pocket passer.

He doesn't want to abandon the pocket and doesn't try to escape until the pressure has him hemmed in. That results in Ryan going down on 3rd and long, most of the time without even making a legit attempt to run around and find somebody open.  

That's not a slap at Ryan, most pocket passers want to stay in the pocket, duck under the first rusher to arrive and then try to get a pass off. In Smith's offense, and in today's offenses, I think the advantage clearly belongs with mobile QB's like Mariota and Ridder.

They can throw from the pocket, but if they see the rush is going to penetrate to them, they don't try to stand their ground they get out in the open and then start looking to find a receiver or run the ball. If Mariota can stay healthy, he's going to prove he can be as effective with these weapons we now have as Ryan was with a bad OL and hardly any weapons. 

As for the OL, you know I've been ranting about that as much or more than anyone on here. If they're not twice as good and Smith doesn't ruthlessly root out any and all of the well-known weak links in this OL, then he should be concerned about his job.

Only a fool would stick with the five OL we have after last season if they haven't transformed into guys who can hold their own in the NFL. If we coast into Season 2 with this bunch and they stink, nobody will have to persuade me that Smith is not the guy we need as our HC. 

I also agree Smith's game plans/scheme last year was high school level. The play-calling was so vanilla and predictable it frankly made Smith's hire look like a mistake of biblical proportions. I'm going to give him a pass, mainly because the OL made running any play a challenge. Pitts and CP84 were the main weapons, they just couldn't do enough with the OL problems in the basic scheme he tried to run. 

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I think it's obvious they're planning to play better defense, run the ball more and utilize more weapons on the field on offense.  They stocked up the WR room, got another RB, re-signed Patterson, and got 2 mobile QBs.  They're not putting games in the QB's hands so much as they are going to spread out and spread the ball around to multiple weapons. 

I think the key is the run game.  The defense should be better since we added some significant help to the pass rush and secondary.  The passing game would theoretically take a step back losing Ryan, except we got mobile QBs who will be utilized to move the chains and score in the red zone, and we also have competent WRs now.  But if they can establish the run game and keep it going, that is going to open up the offense AND keep the defense off the field.  It isn't sexy.  It isn't flashy.  But it works.

Get the run game going and this whole thing comes together.  Let it falter and the offense at least will struggle, and they might boat anchor the defense too.

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The performance of the Oline is the key.  If they don't play well here is what happens.   Life will be even more difficult for an average( at the very best) Mariotta. I like London and Pitts but they are still young and you have to get the ball to them for them to be effective. Ridder is a 3rd string rook....nuff said. 

Defensively...this team has improved and I like this last draft. But if the Oline falters we will endure way too many 3 and outs putting way to much pressure on this young defense. 

Honestly....I think we are in trouble this year, offensively.  Sub par qbs....sub par OL....talent at the receiver position but those guys are young. None of our rbs are going to scare any of our opponents.   But...if the Oline can over-perform throughout the season...the Falcons could make a push for a .500 record...8-9 or perhaps 9-8.  

 

  

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9 hours ago, PokerSteve said:

Now look at them yo yos, that's the way you do it,

One-point wins is all you need,

That ain't workin' that's the way you do it,

Lombardi's for nothin' and your chicks for free!

Chicks for free is all I heard...

Edited by ItsJustMe
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