Will Steve Sarkisian improve, just like Kyle Shanahan?
In Kyle Shanahan’s second year with the Atlanta Falcons, the offense improved significantly, in comparison to his first year. Can Steve Sarkisian mimic the same success going into the 2018 season?
I’m just going to say it. Steve Sarkisian isn’t going anywhere. It’s not what you want to hear, but it’s reality. After venting out your frustration, let’s accept that fact and ask ourselves an intriguing question. Can Sarkisian improve in his second season with the Atlanta Falcons, just like Kyle Shanahan did?
In 2015, Kyle Shanahan was brought in by coach Dan Quinn to be the offensive coordinator. In his first season, Shanahan quietly had success in the passing game, ranking sixth in the league. Where the Falcons struggled was the rushing attack, ranking 18th. They also managed to score just 21.2 points a game, ranking 21st.
In 2016, it was Kyle Shanahan’s world, and everyone else was just living in it. In terms of total yards, the Falcons ranked second behind the Saints, but their 33.8 points a game was ranked fourth best in NFL history.
During a game in 2015, Matt Ryan was mic’d up on the sideline speaking with Kyle Shanahan. Ryan looked over at Shanahan and stated that he couldn’t wait until the players become familiar with the offense, then they would really be in gear and put the league on notice. We just hope that Ryan has that same sort of optimism with Sarkisian.
In 2017, Steve Sarkisian wasn’t a failure in terms of yards, ranking eighth in passing and 13th in rushing. His 22.1 points per game was what frustrated Atlanta fans. Not only that, but the heat he’s generating is mainly from questionable play calling.
Whether it be an end around to Taylor Gabriel on 4th-and-Goal against the Patriots, or rolling out to the right with a pocket passer instead of just running the ball against Philadelphia, Sark this year has been a downgrade compared to last year.
This is where we need to look at the bright side. Statistically speaking, Sarkisian’s first year is similar to, if not better than, Shanahan’s first year. What’s stopping the Falcons offense from taking off again is the situational play calling, not because the plays he calls can’t produce yards.
If Sark doesn’t clean up on his decision making next year, you could possibly expect a midseason firing. However, if he does improve his situational play calling, he can still keep his playbook that has helped produce the eighth best offense this season, a crucial benefit for players that will only get more familiar with the offense.
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Let’s just hope that the front office can keep most of this offense together this offseason, and Sark can get his stuff together. By that, I mean either fixing his mistakes, or get his stuff together to find employment with another team.