Julio Jones

USA Today

Same Falcons Offense, Same Red Zone Disaster

The Atlanta Falcons haven’t learned anything.

September 07, 2018 - 11:13 am
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We did learn something last night and that is that the Atlanta Falcons haven’t learned anything. Same Falcons offense, same red zone disaster. Look, I know it’s just one game and I don’t want to jump to any conclusions after sixty minutes, but I know Falcons fans are. And they’re already feeling like Year 2 with Steve Sarkisian as the offensive coordinator is already looking a lot like year one.

Five trips to the red zone, 1 touchdown. And you have Julio Jones. I repeat, you have Julio Jones. 

Julio Jones had 10 receptions for 169 yards and your offense manages 12 points. 

But they still had a chance at the end. 1st down on the Eagles ten. 23 seconds left. A chance to beat the defending Super Bowl champs and run a stake through the rap that they’re garbage in the red zone. And here’s what happened:

Incompletion

Incompletion

Incompletion

Incompletion – wait, penalty on the Eagles, so one more shot

And….

Incompletion

Five shots at redemption and all five were incomplete. Because when that offense gets to the red zone, it doesn’t just bog down, it falls apart. Can’t run, can’t pass, can’t do anything.  

In the words of Jim Mora, they couldn’t do diddly-poo

On the first drive into the red zone, Julio Jones wasn’t even on the field in the red zone and that was after he had a 33-yard reception. Maybe you want that guy out there? Then again, maybe it wouldn’t matter. Not if you have first and goal from the six, and three plays from the one, and still can’t score. 

So where does the blame go? Is it on Sark? The offensive line? The receivers? The backs?

Well, let me read from the Book of Jalen Ramsey. As you’ll recall, he told GQ: “I think Matt Ryan's overrated. You can't tell me you win MVP two years ago, and then last year, you a complete bust, and you still got Julio Jones? There's no way that should ever happen. I don't care. You know what that tells me? That tells me [Offensive Coordinator Kyle] Shanahan left, went to San Francisco, got Garoppolo, made Garoppolo this big thing. And now Garoppolo is a big name—and now [Matt Ryan] has this bad year? Alright, well, was it really you, or was it your coach? He was doing what was asked of him and it was making him look really, really good.”

And when he said that, the Matty Ice Army came out hot. They were pissed that Ramsey took a run at their guy. Ryan takes too much criticism, they’ll tell you and then they’ll point to his stats.

Well, here’s a stat from last night: Matt Ryan - 1 of 9 in the red zone with one interception

1 of 9 with a pick where it matters most. And they lose by one score on the road. I’m not saying Matt Ryan is a bad quarterback. He’s not. He’s a very good quarterback, but he’s not a great quarterback. And right now, he’s not even a decent quarterback in the red zone. 

Want more? According to ESPN, Matt Ryan has completed just one red zone pass to Julio Jones since Kyle Shanahan left. 

Let me repeat that: former NFL MVP Matt Ryan has completed one red zone pass to future Hall of Famer Julio Jones in the last season plus one game without Kyle Shanahan. So that means that either Shanahan is a genius, Sark is an idiot, or Ryan is really, really dependent on his coordinators. Or all of the above. 

He’s 1 for 20 to Julio Jones in the red zone. What the hell? How is that even possible?

Julio Jones is about 7 feet tall with a 10 foot wingspan and a twenty foot vertical leap. And somehow, Matt Ryan can’t find him where it matters most. And when he does find him, he either forces it or floats it. That is one of the most amazing stats ever. The only thing that can stop Julio Jones is Atlanta’s red zone offense.

And I don’t want to go all “why don’t they make the whole airplane out of the black box” on you, but at this point, just stop trying to get into the red zone. Stop at the 20 yard line and just work from there. It can’t be any worse than what you’re currently doing.