Atlanta Falcons Should Go No-Huddle More Often


The Atlanta Falcons’ offense has looked sluggish at times the last several weeks. Would going more no-huddle fix many of the offense’s recent struggles?

It has been difficult to decide what has caused the Atlanta Falcons to not look so electric on offense for the better part of the last month and a half. Statistically, the team still puts up the numbers that would correspond to an elite offense, but visually, we can all tell that something isn’t right with the offensive unit.

While we all hope that whatever was ailing the Atlanta Falcons in the last few weeks was honestly rectified during the bye week, it was challenging to pinpoint what exactly was holding the offensive unit back. Dan Quinn mentioned in his press conference Monday that turnover margins, third down, and red zone were areas of emphasis that the team needs to improve on going forward. So is there a panacea that can cure what ails the Atlanta Falcons’ frustrating offense? Yes, and I believe that is going into a no-huddle offense more often.

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What I believe is a major issue with the Atlanta Falcons on offense is that Matt Ryan isn’t being asked to do what he does best: orchestrate drives through precision passing in a no-huddle offense. This is where the Matty Ice nickname comes from. Sure, Matt Ryan is one of the better passers in the NFL, but his ability to march down the field up against a short clock sets him apart from most of his peers.

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I understand that this is a new offense he plays in under OC Kyle Shanahan, but Ryan looks out of sorts in it most of the time. While I love the Zone Blocking Scheme, being able to run block at an elite level and pass protect at a high level, I think the pace of the offense doesn’t serve Matt Ryan’s skill set as well as going no-huddle does.

When Matt Ryan is on his game, he can stand as a field general in the no-huddle how Peyton Manning would in his prime. He uses the whole field and with the clock rapidly expiring, he can complete the necessary medium-long passes to give his team opportunities to score points. Even in 2015, we’ve seen Ryan still do this late in halves, so why wouldn’t the offensive game plan want to pick up the pace to score more points?

I’m not saying that the Atlanta Falcons need to go at a Chip Kelly pace, but with a passer like Matt Ryan who thrives in those up-tempo situations and going against some very lackluster pass defenses in the coming weeks, it seems obvious. When the quarterback is at his most comfortable, the offense plays at its best.

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The smartest offensive coordinators try to design plays around their quarterbacks strengths. Every Pro Bowl caliber quarterback has an elite skill that sets him apart from his peers: Joe Flacco‘s deep ball accuracy in cold weather, Tony Romo‘s play action fake, Aaron Rodger’s throwing mechanics. Let’s not forget about the best one of all: Tom Brady‘s uncanny ability to QB sneak on 4th and short and get it every time.

Where having that extra second tends to help most quarterbacks, it seems to hurt Matt Ryan. He’s at his best going no-huddle pushing the ball down the field on 8 to 10 play drives. We know that the weapons he has to throw to can handle it, as many of them have played in no-huddle systems before. However, is going no-huddle and having an effective ZBS mutually exclusive entities? It wouldn’t make sense for them being philosophical tradeoffs, as the ZBS tends to have quicker rather than physically imposing offensive linemen. No-huddle is all about togetherness and speed, like the ZBS.

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Going no-huddle more often should help the Atlanta Falcons in the turnover margin, on third down, and in the red zone. What it does is it allows the offense to dictate the pace of the game. It’s an aggressive tactic that I think the Falcons need to use, as opposed to hanging around on the defensive and trying to win games in the fourth quarter. Can we just have a Dirk Koetter aerial attack with a ZBS influenced run game? Offensive consistency is going to get this team back in the playoffs. The push starts now. Let’s Go!