Since it seems like just about everyone is second-guessing the Atlanta Falcons these days, might as well join the club.
I could go in any number of directions here, but I’m going to go with the screen pass. Might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a novel concept for the Falcons. The screen pass is in their playbook, but it must be on the last page.
I’m looking at a list from ESPN Stats & Information on how every NFL quarterback has fared in throwing screen passes in the first four games of this season. Matt Ryan has attempted precisely seven screen passes. He’s completed six and that’s resulted in a grand total of 2 (yes, 2) yards.
For context, St. Louis’ Sam Bradford and San Francisco’s Alex Smith are the only two quarterbacks in the league who have started four games and attempted fewer screen passes. They each have five. But, hey, Smith’s screen passes have resulted in 31 yards. Bradford’s have totaled 8 yards, four times what the Falcons have gained off the screen.
Look, I’m not saying more screen passes are going to cure whatever’s been slowing down Atlanta’s offense. But why not at least try a few? Rookie Jacquizz Rodgers looks like the kind of running back who could make things happen on a screen pass. It’s worth a shot.
It’s working with some degree of success for the other three NFC South teams. Carolina rookie Cam Newton has completed all 17 of his screen-pass attempts for 152 yards. Newton and Chicago’s Jay Cutler are tied for the league lead in attempted screens and Newton’s yardage total is No. 2 after Cutler, who has 178 yards on screens.