If only the Atlanta Falcons would have done this sooner, maybe the Dirty Birds wouldn’t be ranked 32nd in the NFL in running the football. With nine games down and a rushing game that has become nearly invisible, the Falcons are finally working on their blocking skills in a rare padded practice.
At 2-7 and a ground game garnering only 64.3 yards per game, coach Mike Smith and his staff are taking time to school the offensive linemen back to the basics. The phrase “better late than never” seems to be the theme for the Falcons this week, as they finally realized that throwing the ball 60-plus times a game and having Matt Ryan’s arm come off at the end of the game was just not cutting it.
While the Falcons have seen their opponents gnash their defense with their ground games and their offensive linemen get smashed up front, they are hoping that they can be the ones to Hulk-Smash the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense after they limited the Falcons to 18 yards on 18 carries. Coach Smith told the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
“The thing that you have to do is work on your leverage. Playing lower than your opponent. There are some things we are doing drill-wise that I think will help our guys. We have a limited number of live snaps in pads.”
Although the Falcons’ last win came against a then winless Buccaneers team, the Falcons barely defeated them 31-23 behind the superb play of Ryan. With the running game dead as usual, Ryan put on one of his best performances this season by going 20-for-26 for 273 yards, three touchdowns and had a passer-rating of 148.4.
Running backs Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers will have a tough challenge in being more successful on the ground against a stout defense led by Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. After holding the Miami Dolphins to only two yards on 14 carries, the Falcons better hope that they can graduate elementary school for offensive linemen dummies with honors quickly.
The Falcons should be better with the extra work in the blocking game, but that isn’t saying much for a group that may be deemed as the worst offensive line in the NFL today.