2019 proved starting fast for the Atlanta Falcons led to wins
The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of areas to improve upon in 2020 if they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 season.
We all know the Atlanta Falcons defense has been a work in progress since the late 1960s when the franchise was founded. There have been some good years but nothing exceptional and nothing consistent.
But what about the offense?
There is no doubt that during Matt Ryan’s career, the Atlanta Falcons offense has been more loaded than it has ever been and they have produced exceptionally well given the lack of stability in coaching. Learning a system every couple of years takes its toll on the continuity of the players and the team in general.
A question that comes to mind is a simple one – how fast (or slow) did the offense start in 2019? Let’s take a look and see if we can answer that question.
With 16 games, the offense had 16 initial first-quarter drives and 16 initial third-quarter drives. Of those 16 first-quarter drives, the offense scored just three touchdowns, but they manage to kick five field goals. So the Falcons scored on half of their initial drives in 2019.
Of the three games where they scored a touchdown on their game-opening drive, the Atlanta Falcons went 2-1, beating the Jaguars, Bucs (A) and losing to the Arizona Cardinals. Of the five games they kicked field goals to on their game-opening drives, they went a 4-1. Their four wins were in New Orleans, home against the Bucs, home against the Eagles and in Carolina. There lone loss when kicking a field goal to start the game, the Rams at home.
In just seven games this year, the Atlanta Falcons scored on their opening drive of the third quarter and they went a lousy 3-4 in those games. The Falcons lost to the Colts, Titans, Seahawks, and Cardinals while beating the Panthers twice and the Eagles.
Finally, in three of the Falcons 16 games this season they scored on both of their drives to start each half, beating the Eagles and Panthers while losing the Cardinals.
For the season, the Atlanta Falcons scored 381 points, finished 13th in the league in scoring, but just ninth in the NFC and third in the NFC South. This is the third-lowest output of offense under Dan Quinn, though 2015 under Kyle Shanahan (339 points) and 2017 under Steve Sarkisian (353 points) were much worse.
The Falcons bounced back in 2016 and 2018 under the second year of a new coordinator, each time scoring more than 400 total points; as we know the 2016 offense put up 540 points in 16 games.
Scoring on half of their game-opening drives should be a good thing for any team and it clearly was for the Atlanta Falcons as they went 6-2 in the games that they scored on their game-opening drive. Starting fast is the obvious answer for the Atlanta Falcons, let’s hope Dirk Koetter understands that as well.