The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of issues to reset at the bye week. One of the biggest issues comes through their passing play design and hiring an outsider's perspective to help improve the team while also giving Desmond Ridder someone to help develop him should be a priority. The Falcons should bring in Ken Dorsey, who was recently fired from the Bills, as a passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach through the end of the season. Dorsey has a lot of experience in that kind of role already and helped develop both Cam Newton and Josh Allen.
The Falcons have some real issues on offense when it comes to how their passing concepts aren't really designed to get players open, how the red zone scoring needs to be improved and how they are underutilizing their three top 10 picks at the position. Red zone isn't as big of a problem as it has been made to seem so far in terms of total production. Atlanta is in the middle of the pack in the NFL in red zone touchdown rate at 53.13 percent. However, the real issue down there is play design. Calling a Jonnu Smith pass or a Smith jet sweep makes no sense.
The issue isn't the volume for Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson as much as it is how they are getting the ball delivered to them. Pitts is seeing 19 percent of the receiving targets in the offense. London is seeing 21 percent of the receiving targets in the offense. Robinson is seeing 14 percent of the receivng targets in the offense. That's a combined 54 percent. They're getting their number called, however, there's too many times that they are running simple curl routes. Or they're running clear outs to open up something underneath for someone like KhaDarel Hodge or Scotty Miller or Smith. The Falcons need to feature the three top 10 picks better.
The best way to do that would be to bring in someone who can start integrating in more modern passing concepts into the offense. There's too much in this offense that looks like it was borrowed from Dirk Koetter and Mike Mularkey as opposed to guys who know what they were doing in the passing game like Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay. The best thing the Falcons could do is bring in someone who has a unique mind in the passing game to help open things up with true Bill Walsh-style concepts or even just something that's not from 1975.
Ken Dorsey is one of the best play-callers in the NFL. Even if he didn't get play-calling duties in Atlanta, he could be a bug in Arthur Smith's ear to help him figure out the script better for game day and point new things out that Smith hasn't seen. He could also bring in concepts that the Falcons are missing right now that will open up their premiere picks for more open looks as opposed to the heavily covered looks they continually see. Dorsey wasn't even really fired for his play-calling abilities, but rather because the Bills as a whole are underachieving.
The big reason why the Bills were underachieving, though, was due to poor defense leading to poor field position and the worst turnover rate in the entire NFL this season. With ball security being an issue in Atlanta, also, this might not be the best way to improve that aspect. However, if Dorsey can come in and provide more variation to the passing game conceptually, and allow better development of Desmond Ridder, it's worth at least trying out for the next seven games before seeing if it can be full-time next year. Ridder at least looks like he's trying to get the turnover situation under control.
The Bills were also the third-best touchdown scoring team in the red zone in the NFL this year before his firing. They scored touchdowns 70 percent of the time they made it to the red zone. Dorsey would improve this Falcons offense in multiple ways down in that area, starting with likely allowing them to create more targets for larger receivers like Drake London and Kyle Pitts. In the red zone for the Bills, the highest targeted players were Stephon Diggs, Gabe Davis and Dalton Kincaid. The Falcons could use some of his designs to really incorporate the scoring opportunities where they need to go and not where they have been going.
Arthur Smith might need to swallow his pride on this one. Dave Ragone absolutely would have to swallow his pride on this one. The Falcons need the help. Taylor Heinicke is a solid backup and mentor at quarterback. But if the Falcons want to get to the playoffs this year, they need to do something to aid Desmond Ridder and his development. Why not give him a quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator who understands a dual-threat quarterback like him? It'd be just asinine to not even try it.
However, the big question lurking right now is whether the Falcons would actually do something like this. Smith's job is likely on the line if he can't turn things around. But he's known to be stubborn, and something like this would show a change in that stubborn nature of his. It shouldn't be expected to happen, but the Falcons need to make a change somewhere. This would be something that could actually lead to some wins. Maybe a lot of wins.
All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of DraftScout.com and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.