Has Sark figured out how to make Falcons' offense flourish?

It took former OC Kyle Shanahan more than a year to shine, is Sarkisian following suit?

Jarrett Smith
September 17, 2018 - 10:56 am
Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian

© Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports


What a difference a week makes.

The Atlanta Falcons made things a bit interesting late in their 31-24 victory over the Carolina Panthers but in the NFL a win is a win and there were plenty of positives to take out of performance where a thin defense got tested against a dynamic offense going through its own offensive changes.

Speaking of dynamic offenses, Atlanta’s offense and Steve Sarkisian gave fans a glimpse of what they are capable of with a performance that should generate positive vibes for the next seven days.

Despite missing Devonta Freeman, Atlanta leaned on Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith to gash the Carolina defense and set up a ruthlessly efficient afternoon for Matt Ryan in the air. Ryan spread the ball around to eight different receivers and completed 80 percent of his throws.  

Atlanta set up the run efficiently, finding an outside zone running game that Carolina had no answer for, and leaned on it to assert their will throughout the game. As time went on Ryan was able to work the play action game and open up passes downfield which became vital in the middle of the 4th quarter when Atlanta had to drive for what proved to be the winning score.

As a bonus, Atlanta was four for four in the red zone Sunday and as the game went on, there was almost a sense of confidence as the offense continued to click and execute. Matt Ryan defied expectations by running for two scores and put the ball in the right place to allow Calvin Ridley and Austin Hooper to flash their high ceilings.

It was not perfect, but week two of the 2018 season looked more like a complex symphony than an improv set that veers into oblivion. The calls looked confident and the players looked confident as they executed said calls efficiently. That execution can not be overstated enough, as the lack of execution has at times deserved as much criticism as Sarkisian’s sometimes questionable play calls.

The growing pains under Sarkisian have been more about frustration at missed potential and opportunities than having necessarily a bad offense. Last year’s club was in the top ten in the league in yards per game but just middle-of-the-road when putting points on the board.

If Atlanta’s victory over Carolina – where they racked up over 400 yards with flawless red-zone numbers – is an indication, Steve Sarkisian and the offense could be hitting a rhythm.