As an Atlanta Falcons fan, I knew the offense was going to take a step back from its record-setting year in 2016. However, I did not know they were going to be almost unwatchable at times. With a team as talented as the Falcons, it seemed that anyone could take over the play calling and be successful. However, this was not the case in 2017, and most of the struggles were pinpointed directly at Steve Sarkisian.
Although, it’s not fair to blame Sarkisian for all of the problems the Falcons had last season. It is fair to say that his playcalling was often times very stale and predictable. Sarkisian almost had a feel to him that he simply was not prepared for the big lights of the NFL. This is why many fans were calling for Sarkisian to be fired after only one season as a play caller.
I understand why so many people were quick to blame Sarkisian, and why they want him gone. However, I prefer continuity at that coaching position. Sarkisian is Matt Ryan’s fourth offensive coordinator in his 10-year career as the Falcons quarterback. He simply has not had the continuity at offensive coordinator. It is also important to note that the previous three offensive coordinators for Matt Ryan became head coaches in the NFL. Here is a look at Matt Ryan’s history under each offensive coordinator.
Totals: 4 seasons, 14,238 yards, 95 touchdowns, 46 interceptions
Averages: 60.8 completion percentage, 3,559 yards, 24 touchdowns, 12 interceptions 88 quarterback rating
Totals: 3 seasons, 13,928 yards, 86 touchdowns, 45 interceptions
Averages: 67 completion percentage, 4,643 yards, 29 touchdowns, 15 interceptions 94.2 quarterback rating
Totals: 2 seasons, 9,535 yards, 59 touchdowns, 23 interceptions
Averages: 68.1 completion percentage, 4,768 yards, 30 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Totals: 1 season, 4,095 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
Averages: 64.7 completion percentage, 4,095 yards, 20 touchdowns, 12 interceptions
It’s a heavy load for a quarterback to go through changes every other year. It is a learning curve that takes time, especially at the toughest position in the NFL. Kyle Shanahan dealt with some serious heat after his first season with the Falcons and turned it around in year two. Shanahan brought that offense to life, which was the engine that brought the high flying Falcons to Super Bowl 51.
This year’s Falcons offense is built more around what Sarkisian wants for his offense. Dan Quinn and Matt Ryan have stood by Sarkisian through the bad times, and continue to support him. This is exactly why we should too. Sarkisian should be in his ultimate comfort zone this season, and we may see him at his best. This could be the best roster the Falcons have ever yielded in franchise history, and Sarkisian is the engine behind it. It iss a tall order for him, but his system is now in place and there are no more excuses.
Sarkisian was not the only one to blame for the Falcons drop off in 2017. He has explained that he is ready to unleash the Falcons in 2018, and I would not be surprised if he does just that this season. The team is in prime position to do some great things this season and it all starts with the play calling. Do you think Sarkisian is ready to take a leap forward in year two?