Falcons Must Learn From Divisional Round Winners

Thomas Mott
January 14, 2020 - 1:38 am
Dan Quinn | Thomas Dimitroff

© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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The NFL Playoffs have been a great spectacle over the past two weeks. Lots of fun. Big upsets, huge comebacks, excellent QB play, I mean these playoffs have had it all.

Now, there are a lot of story lines that I could focus on.

I could focus on Lamar Jackson’s terrible performance. Great during the regular season but once again a run-first QB underwhelms in the post season. In his last three bowl games and now two NFL Playoff games Lamar is 1-4 with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

But I don’t want to focus on Lamar.

I could very easily focus on Ryan Tannehill and the Titans pulling off another upset. I could focus on how Tannehill is channeling his inner 2017 Nick Foles all the way to the bank this offseason.

But I don’t want to focus on Tannehill.

I could focus on the two former Falcons assistant coaches Matt Lafleur and Kyle Shanahan facing off in the NFC Title Game.

But I don’t want to focus on them either.

You know what I do want to focus on right now?  I want to focus on what all four of the winning teams had in common this weekend

Great running games.

I know, not what you expected huh? Hear me out though. All four of the winning teams this weekend rushed for over 100 yards. Tennessee rushed for 217, San Francisco rushed for 186, Kansas City rushed for 118 and Green Bay rushed for 109 yards.

Compare that two the for losing teams and you find that Seattle and Baltimore both rushed for over 100 yards but their QBs Lamar Jackson and Russell Wilson both lead their team in rushing. The second leading rushers on both Seattle and Baltimore were horrible. Marshawn Lynch had 26 yards on 12 carries and Mark Ingram had 22 yards on 6 carries.

In fact, 7 of the top 10 rushing teams in the NFL this year made it to the playoffs.

Now, you might be saying, “Thomas, it’s a passing league”.

Is it?  Seven of the top ten passing teams in the NFL this year missed the playoffs.

In fact, only Kansas City, who has the best QB/HC combo in the league, is the lone top 10 passing team still alive in the playoffs.

Now I’m not an idiot. I understand you still need to throw the ball to win games in the NFL but when it comes to winning in December through February, you have got to be able to run the ball.

Want me to tie what all this means to our Falcons?

Easy, Atlanta was 30th in the league in rushing this year. That is 3rd worst. Likewise, they were the 3rd best passing team in the NFL.

For the next few months of the Falcons’ offseason, we will talk about the need for everything from pass rusher, to corner, to linebacker. We will talk about Dan Quinn and the coaching staff and free agents like De’Vondre Campbell and Austin Hooper.

These are all important pieces that need to be addressed this offseason. However, in a “Copycat” league maybe it is time for the Falcons to play follow the leader and really address their horrific run game this offseason.