Heading into the season the Atlanta Falcons run game was expected to be one of if not the best rushing attack in the league. Adding top-ten pick Bijan Robinson to Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson left plenty of reasons to believe that the run game could carry the Atlanta offense and give the Falcons quarterback plenty of time to grow and learn the position.
However, six games into the season Atlanta's run game hasn't been close to the unit we watched last year. Even with the addition of Bijan Robinson backs are often hit behind or at the line and have tacklers waiting for them if they manage to make it a yard or two upfield.
The fix for Arthur Smith and the backs couldn't be more simple and it all hinges on Desmond Ridder. It was written about after the first two games of the season both on this site and others if you're an opposing defense pack the line of scrimmage and sit down the secondary in run support.
Force Ridder to make you pay for not respecting the passing attack and shut down the Atlanta run game completely. Against Houston, this strategy was beaten for the first time with Ridder slicing through the secondary and putting together an impressive performance.
However, the very next week Washington brought the same approach and it forced Ridder into turnovers, and the young quarterback missed open receivers. The NFL is making it clear to the Falcons that they aren't going to be able to run the ball until they have a quarterback that has proven dangerous enough to respect.
One game of impressive production isn't going to cut it the Falcons are going to have to string together games of hurting teams passing the ball for the approach to change and the run game to open back up. It is simple math for a Falcons offensive line that doesn't have enough blockers to set up the run game and Ridder hasn't consistently made the defense pay.
While the Falcons need to continue to mix in the run each of the next two games fans should expect a heavy passing approach for a team that is being dared to push the ball down the field.