Home NFL To unlock their offensive potential, the Falcons might want to begin sooner in 2023

To unlock their offensive potential, the Falcons might want to begin sooner in 2023

To unlock their offensive potential, the Falcons might want to begin sooner in 2023


We’re not used to considering of the Falcons as a second half crew, not with all of the soul-snapping late collapses over the previous a number of years, however final yr that’s precisely what they had been.

On solely 4 events final season did the Falcons outscore their opponent within the first half; a few instances they tied, however principally they went into halftime trailing. Examine that to the 12 instances out of 17 video games the place they outscored their opponents within the second half because the crew acquired rolling, opponents let their guard down, Arthur Smith tapped into some darkish magic, or no matter different elements you’d prefer to credit score. The crew gained energy as the sport went on, seemingly, proving to be higher within the second half of video games.

That’s a half of an awesome factor—you wish to be at your greatest late in video games, when you may put a dagger in a drained opponent—however the different half is an issue. The Falcons have too many weapons on offense heading into this yr for a repeat first half efficiency, and whereas they appear like a a lot better crew, they don’t determine to be so good that sluggish begins can be one thing they’re able to overcoming on a weekly foundation.

So the numbers counsel that the important thing to really unlocking this offense’s potential doesn’t simply contain connecting on extra deep photographs or operating extra successfully on early downs. To win extra in 2023, the Falcons have to begin sooner.

Let’s discover what I imply by that, beginning with the Tweet I noticed yesterday that sparked this text.

My preliminary response to this was a little bit of a double take. The Falcons had the most effective three-and-out proportion within the second half in soccer? It didn’t essentially translate to victories or big scoring drives, nevertheless it factors to a sure tenacity and productiveness that we did discover a yr in the past. After a bit digging, I discovered that not solely is it true, however the concept that this crew was merely higher within the second half is backed up by even a cursory look at Atlanta’s 2022 splits.

Falcons offensive splits by half in 2022

Half Passing Yards Passing Touchdowns Common Web Yards Per Try Dashing Yards Dashing Touchdowns Dashing Yards Per Try 1st Downs
Half Passing Yards Passing Touchdowns Common Web Yards Per Try Dashing Yards Dashing Touchdowns Dashing Yards Per Try 1st Downs
1st 1,534 6 6.8 1,089 9 4.6 140
2nd 1,367 11 7.4 1,587 8 5 157

The second half Falcons outscored the primary half Falcons by 4 touchdowns, outgained them by about 300 yards, and averaged a few yard extra per play. They had been noticeably extra productive operating the ball in opposition to drained defenses looking forward to the comeback, maybe, however additionally they had been crisper passing the ball.

That distinction is just not stark, however it’s vital. Atlanta ranked 14th within the NFL in common scoring within the second half of video games and nineteenth within the first half, and the .9 factors per half distinction over the course of the season added as much as a number of shut losses for a crew that performed quite a lot of tight video games. All of it gestures at a nasty behavior the Falcons had in 2022: Falling behind and having to dig their approach out, as I alluded to within the opener of this piece.

How does that look in opposition to the remainder of the league? In 2022, the NFL common was in the identical ballpark within the first three quarters, with round 4.6 yards per carry and seven.1 yards per reception earlier than a dip drove these numbers to three.9 yards per carry and 6.8 yards per reception within the fourth quarter. The Falcons clocked in beneath each these averages within the first quarter and had been within the ballpark within the second quarter, however within the second half of video games, Atlanta was a markedly above common speeding crew and a barely above common passing assault. Within the first half, they had been roughly a league common speeding assault and a under common passing crew.

That’s only one yr, clearly. In 2021, an arguably even much less deep and proficient roster was not nice within the first half and brutally unhealthy within the second half, thanks partially to a a lot weaker speeding assault. And it doesn’t imply it can translate over to 2023, when the Falcons have upgraded the roster considerably. However it’s value noting that the crew’s quarterback, Desmond Ridder, has a fame as a sluggish starter in video games borne out by his school profession and his 4 recreation stint beneath heart in Atlanta when he accomplished beneath 50% of his first quarter passes particularly. That’s a behavior the Falcons can be asking him to shed within the service of sooner begins, which he ought to be capable to do with work and upgraded weapons this yr. Clearly, the complete offense might be crisper within the first half of video games to assist guarantee this crew hits the bottom operating.

It is usually value noting that Arthur Smith’s first yr in Tennessee as offensive coordinator noticed the Titans show a strikingly related sample—albeit with a way more efficient offense general—of manufacturing extra effectively within the second half than the primary. The excellent news is that in 2020, Tennessee was higher balanced in that regard, and with extra expertise and extra time I don’t doubt Atlanta can put their quirky 2022 splits behind them.

The Falcons had been one thing of an outlier as a crew that was terrific within the third quarter and fairly good within the fourth quarter, as nicely. Had they been a greater, extra full soccer crew that didn’t fall behind while you had been younger, these robust second halves would’ve translated to many victories. As a substitute, they only made for extra fascinating soccer.

Fascinating soccer is now not sufficient for Atlanta, a crew with actual expectations heading into this season. Popping out of the gates robust on offense will assist make sure the Falcons attain their ceiling this season, as a result of relying on with the ability to catch up after sluggish begins even with extra expertise guarantees to be precisely the form of fraught proposition it was in 2022.



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