The Atlanta Falcons got outscored 20-0 in the second half against Jay Cutler’s Miami Dolphins. For a Falcons team with Super Bowl aspirations, this is unacceptable. They can say that Vic Beasley was limited and Mohammad Sanu was out, but every team has injuries at this point, and for last year’s best offensive team to be shutout for an entire half, something has to be wrong. The defense has played decently thus far, but the offense has been subpar, especially considering their expectations coming into this season. The issues stem from offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to Matt Ryan and on down, and they need to be fixed.
This loss gives the Falcons two straight games in which they failed to win on the final drive when they had the chance against supposedly inferior teams. A pair of bad red zone passes on third and fourth down led to a loss against Buffalo and a tipped interception in field goal range led to a loss against Miami. The worst part is that both games were in Atlanta, a place the Falcons have been dominant in since the start of Matt Ryan’s tenure. Last season, the Falcons put up 35 points five times, while this year they’ve yet to do it in five games. That’s an extremely difficult number of points to hit, but this is a roster that should be even better this year than last season. To make matters worse, the NFC south of last year was a cake walk compared to this season.
The Panthers look like a legitimate Super Bowl contender again after a one year hiatus from that distinction, and both the Saints and Buccaneers have shown flashes of being as good as anyone. The Falcons have to find whatever answers they need quickly, because they have to go to New England next and then face a stretch of the Jets, Panthers, Cowboys, Seahawks, Buccaneers, and Vikings. Each one of those teams have shown they know what it takes to win, and are almost certainly better than Miami. If Atlanta doesn’t figure it out, they could be out of the playoff race before your fantasy football league’s playoffs even begin.
The main focus of the problem has to be shared by Sarkisian and Ryan. Sarkisian’s scheme looked good at first, but has slowly devolved into a place of worry for Falcons fans. After the wonders that former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan worked, it’s only fair to suspect that a change at OC is at least the start of the reason why the offense has seemingly lost their mojo. Coach Sark’s scheme seems to be slower and more run oriented, and lately the players haven’t been on the same page, and that starts with Matt Ryan.
Ryan was the league MVP last year. This year, he has fallen to a depth unseen before. His quarterback rating is down 30 points, and is at its lowest since the 2009 season. He has as many picks as touchdowns so far, which is astonishing considering how he has five seasons where he has doubled his interception tally with his touchdowns. To make matters worse, he has only thrown one less interception this year in five games than he did in all 16 games last year. To be fair, a good amount of his interceptions were on tipped passes and unlucky circumstances, but his inability to be clutch when it matters has shown in the last two losses and is very worrisome.
The Falcons have every opportunity to prove that they can right the ship in Foxborough next Sunday, but unless Ryan or Sarkisian make changes to their game, there is little reason for Falcons fans to have faith in their historically great turned frustratingly mediocre offense.