3. Can The Falcons Gain More Than 100 Rushing Yards?
Not to bring up the record-breaking 2016 season again but ever since Kyle Shanahan left for the 49ers job, the Falcons offense slowed down. That is almost to be expected with such an incredible season there is only one direction you can go. Steve Sarkisian was given the keys to the offense but I’m assuming Falcons management forgot he was an alcoholic who probably shouldn’t be given the keys to anything. Sark was fired after two disappointing seasons. Former offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, was hired in his place to take over the offense. With Koetter came his run-first philosophy the Falcons are trying to adapt to turn this offense back into the behemoth they once were. If last week was any indication of how things will be, Falcons fan will have to enjoy highlights of 2016 if they want to recapture that magic.
The Falcons shift to a run-first team was pretty evident when the first depth chart was released with FOUR running backs on the team. Carrying four running backs in 1983 would seem excessive. Nonetheless, the Falcons were committed to the run game with Koetter at the helm. Well, last week, after getting into a big hole early, the Koetter and the Falcons pretty much abandoned the run, rightfully, choosing to run the ball 17 times for 73 yards compared to 46 passes from Matt Ryan. Not a great start for the run-first philosophy.
The Falcons will need a potent running game if they want to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start. Last season, the Falcons would gain more than 100 rushing yards only 6 times. However, those results were usually positive, winning five of those six games, including the three-game winning streak to close the season out. This Falcons offense is at it’s best when Devonta Freeman and company are running the ball with success. When teams can focus on Matt Ryan and his targets, this team becomes very one dimensional and predictable quickly. Dirk Koetter needs to have a goal of reaching 100 rushing yards on Sunday if they want to have a chance to control the clock and help out their defense. Against the Eagles, the Falcons will need all the help they can get.