Training Camp is knocking on the door of the NFL and within the next couple of weeks, the NFC South will be looking to find answers for the 2019 NFL season. Coaching changes and new personnel highlight what the four teams within the NFC South will be about in 2019. In this series, each team in the division will be put under the microscope. It’s time to look at the four biggest questions on the Atlanta Falcons.
Falcons’ Offense and Dirk Koetter
Just several months removed from being the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, Dirk Koetter will look to push Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons offense. Taking notes from the last time Koetter ran the offense in Atlanta, you’ll quickly notice career highs in Ryan’s completion percentage. You’ll also notice near highs in interceptions totals.
Koetter likes to run a “pass-happy” offense, which may have hurt Ryan’s QBR at times. There’s no denying Koetter and Ryan had success together placing outside the top 10 only once in total offense while Koetter was calling plays. The big question here is, will the Falcons offense be able to score points?
It seems to be the same question that was asked while Coach Koetter was the head coach further south in Tampa Bay. Will all the yards on offense add up to points on the scoreboard?
Just once did a Koetter led Falcons offense place inside the top 10 in points. This could be due to the Falcons less-than-stellar run game between 2012 and 2014. Having a balanced attack on offense has to be a priority.
Offensive Line Woes
There may not be a bigger question mark for Atlanta heading into training than the offensive line. Matt Ryan was sacked 42 times in 2018, which marked the second-highest sack rate of his career. Injuries up front hurt the Falcons in 2018, but with a few free-agent signings and some help from the draft, general manager Thomas Dimitroff may have found some pieces to alleviate the problem.
With the additions of veteran guards in James Carpenter and Jamon Brown, Atlanta could have some much-needed experience to go along with top draft pick Chris Lindstrom. All three players will compete for only two starting jobs. Lindstrom seems to be a near-lock as the starting right guard who could play alongside Atlanta’s other first-rounder, tackle Kaleb McGary.
A mixture of young talent and seasoned vets could be the difference-maker for the Falcons in 2019. This could be the unit that makes or breaks Atlanta’s chances of becoming an elite offense. Pro Football Focus has the Falcons’ offensive line ranked at 22. Headlined by Jake Matthews and Alex Mack, this unit must keep Ryan clean in the pocket and allow the running backs a chance to make plays in 2019.
Football outsiders ranked Atlanta 31st in stuffed runs, making it clear that the offensive line was a top priority in 2019. Not to mention a career-high in quarterback hits for Ryan to the tune of 108. Offensive line coach Chris Morgan has his hands full this training camp. He’ll need this Falcons offensive line to recover from a dismal 2018 campaign in order to give the Falcons a light of hope in 2019.