Originally posted on Grits Blitz  |  Last updated 9/10/13
One of the basic keys to football is to keep the chains moving. If you do that, then your offense can stay on the field and get into a rhythm and the opposing defense gets tired. Last Sunday against the Saints, the Falcons weren't very good on third down on offense or defense. On offense the Falcons were a paltry 27% (3 of 11) and on defense they allowed their opponents to convert 46% (6 of 13). Here is a break-down of how the Falcons fared on third down:   OFFENSE: OVERALL: 3 for 11 (27%) 1st Quarter: 1 for 3 (33%) 2nd Quarter: 1 for 3 (33%) 3rd Quarter: 1 for 3 (33%) 4th Quarter 0 for 2 (0%) 3rd and 2: 0 for 1 (pass) 3rd and 4: 0 for 1 (pass) 3rd and 6: 1 for 1 (QB scramble) 3rd and 10: 1 for 1 (pass) 3rd and Goal: 1 for 3 (three passes) 3rd and 10+: 0 for 4 (four passes, two completed short of the marker) Runs on 3rd Down: 1 for 1 (Matt Ryan scramble) Passes on 3rd Down: 2 for 10 When you look at the Falcons numbers the thing that stands out is that we didn't do a very good job with 'down and distance'. We only had 2 third down tries that were 3rd and 5 or closer (not counting 3rd and goal since I counted that under a different bucket) and on those we went 0 for 2 attempting passes both time. The Falcons were actually really good from 3rd and 6 to 3rd and 10 where we went 2 for 2. Outside of 10 yards, we were 0 for 4. It's hard to convert when you force yourself into an all or nothing situation.   DEFENSE (opponent success rate): Overall: 6 for 13 (46%) 1st Quarter: 1 for 3 (33%) 2nd Quarter: 2 for 4 (50%) 3rd Quarter: 2 for 3 (66%) 4th Quarter: 1 for 3 (33%) 3rd and 1: 1 for 1 (run) 3rd and 3: 1 for 1 (pass) 3rd and 4: 1 for 2 (2 passes, 1 TD)  3rd and 6: 1 for 1 (pass) 3rd and 7: 0 for 2 (both pass attempts)  3rd and 8: 0 for 2 (both pass attempts; one sack) 3rd and 9: 1 for 2 (both pass attempts, conversion to TE) 3rd and 10+: 1 for 2 (both pass attempts) Runs on 3rd Down: 1 for 1 (on 3rd and 1) Passes on 3rd Down: 5 for 12 From 3rd and 6 in, our defense didn't do a very good job of stopping the Saints as they went 4 for 5. On all other third down conversions they were just 2 for 8. You can see the importance of not giving up ground on downs one and two to a team that can execute offensively like the Saints can. It's also interesting because the Falcons tweaked their nickel formation from last year using Akeem Dent in most situations this year instead of Stephen Nicholas.  One game doesn't necessarily tell the story of what will come for the rest of the year but I thought it would be interesting to break down the third down inadequacies from Sunday and maybe we will track it throughout the year.
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