In the recent NFL drafts, the Atlanta Falcons invested heavily in offensive talent, selecting standout prospects like tight end Kyle Pitts, wide receiver Drake London, and running back Bijan Robinson within the top 10 picks.
These acquisitions led fans and analysts to anticipate a dynamic and explosive Falcons offense in the 2023 season. However, the reality on the field has painted a different picture. Over the past two weeks, the Falcons' offense has faltered, failing to score more than 10 points in each game.
In Week 3, they suffered a 20-6 loss to the Detroit Lions, followed by a 23-7 defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in London.
Robinson Shines, Falcons' Offense Falters
While Bijan Robinson continues to shine, amassing 137 scrimmage yards in the game against the Jaguars, the rest of the Falcons' offensive machinery has struggled to find its rhythm.
Head coach Arthur Smith, who had previously promised an "entertaining" offense during training camp, acknowledges that it's his responsibility to revitalize the team's performance. "We have to do a better job, and it starts with me jump-starting the offense early," said Smith after the loss to the Jaguars.
He emphasized the need to avoid turnovers, which have plagued the team's ability to succeed. Second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder, despite high expectations, has underperformed in the first four weeks of the season. He has averaged a mere 186 passing yards per game and has shown reluctance to throw deep.
Against the Jaguars, Ridder attempted only two passes beyond 20 yards, both of which were incomplete. Ridder, once regarded as a steady and cautious presence under center, had a troubling outing in London. He threw two interceptions in the second quarter, including a pick-six that put the Falcons in a 17-0 deficit.
Ridder's late-game sack-fumble sealed the loss. Reflecting on his performance, Ridder admitted, "I did a terrible job of taking care of the ball," marking the first multi-turnover game of his career. Despite Ridder's struggles, Coach Smith opted to stick with the young quarterback, eschewing the option of bringing in veteran Taylor Heinicke.
Smith emphasized the importance of young quarterbacks learning from tough experiences, pointing out Ridder's improved play in the second half. While it may be too early to abandon hope in Ridder, the Falcons are growing increasingly frustrated with their offensive struggles, reminiscent of the previous season.
The high-end talents of Pitts and London have been largely absent from the offensive equation in recent weeks. London expressed the need for players to take ownership of their performance, stating, "Maybe ourselves." He stressed the importance of self-reflection and playmaking to turn the team's fortunes around.
Whether the issue lies with the receiving corps, quarterback play, or coaching decisions, the Falcons know they must find solutions quickly. Scoring an average of just 6.5 points per game over the past two contests is far from entertaining and falls short of the team's aspirations in the NFC South.