In part one of the Atlanta Falcons’ route efficiency series, I looked at the wealth of information provided by Pro Football Focus and how the defense looks to benefit from the tremendous talent it has at defending certain routes. Here, in part two, I’m going to look at the offensive side of the ball.
The Falcons offensive player didn’t feature much into the routes. I feel that is a result of running the ball a significant amount compared to some of the really pass-happy teams, and spreading it around a good bit when the ball is thrown. But there is one spot where the Falcons did shine, and Matt Ryan in particular looked great.
That is when the Falcons run an In-Route, a route I like to call the dig-route, and a crossing route. (Here is the link to another site that does a really good job of showing exactly how a deep crossing route should be run.) On crossing/in routes, Matt Ryan went 30-of-39 for 383 yards, 5 touchdowns and only 1 interception. That ends in a very high completion percentage, good TD-INT ratio, and productivity. The best example of this was in the Falcons 2011 matchup against the Jaguars when Ryan had time to let the play develop, and then found Roddy White across the field for the 29-yard touchdown.
The beauty of the play is in its simplicity. Say Julio Jones is lined up on the left side (running a go-route), Roddy is on the right side (running a dig), and Harry Douglas is in the slot to the right (running a crossing route), and the defense is in Cover-2. With the safety shifting over to defend Julio, who is streaking down the field, there is a huge void between the corner and the safety assigned to anything over the top. Harry Douglas, coming across the field, will fill that void for an easy, gimme reception of 15+ yards. If the safety tries to play the crosser, Jones would be open down the field. And if all else fails, Roddy of another receiving option is bound to be open. The point is, having a guy who can take the top off a defense makes the crossing route an effective weapon, and with the Falcons personnel, it is something they should draw up more often. It will get them serious results.