The Falcons have been nearly perfect all season long, but they are bound to be eliminated from the playoffs early, and here are the reasons why:
1) Bad team history in the playoffs – They are 6-11 overall in the history of their team in the playoffs, with an 0-1 Super bowl record. Since Mike Smith has become the head coach in 2008 the results in the playoffs have not been any better. In 2008 they lost in the first round to the Cardinals 30-24. In 2010 they lost to the Packers in the first game that they played in 48-12. Last season the Giants 24-2 embarrassingly eliminated them in the first round.
2) Mike Smith is too conservative - The Falcons run the ball way too much. Overall the team has run the ball 340 times for only 1259 yards in total. That is an average of 3.7 yards as a team and yet the game plan never changes, which is to run first to open up the pass game. Although the pass to run ratio looks good on paper 61-39, it should be more like 70-30 with how poor their running game has been this year. Mike Smith calls a close to the vest game and has Michael Turner running far too much for the limited productivity that he has had this season. He has run the ball 203 times this season for just 741 yards. That is an average of 16.9 carries per game and an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Yet, Smith has the ball in his hands all the time. Don’t let his nine rushing touchdowns fool anyone either: seven out of the nine have been three yards or less and none of his rushing touchdowns have been longer than 13 yards all season. Changing up running backs doesn’t look much better either because even when they let Jacquizz Rodgers run the ball he is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry.
3) They do not play to their strength - All NFL experts say that it is important to have a balanced offense, running the ball to open up the pass game and vice-versa. But with the numbers Matt Ryan has been putting up and the dynamic receivers they have in Roddy White and Julio Jones (along with future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez) they should be passing the ball a lot more than they have. Matt Ryan has 4,202 passing yards with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, which could be potential MVP numbers. Roddy White has had 79 catches for 1,156 yards and five touchdowns, Julio Jones has had 69 catches for 1,071 yards with nine touchdowns and Tony Gonzalez has had 87 catches for 880 yards and 8 touchdowns. All three of these receivers are having such incredible seasons, which just adds to the point why would you not pass to them even more. With all of them as options for Matt Ryan to throw to, it appears that the Falcons could have the best passing offense in the league, but considering the fact that they don’t pass as much as they should it might end up really hurting the Falcons in the playoffs.
4) They are not blowing any teams out - With their potential potent pass offense they should be blowing teams out, but they haven’t. With the exception of the Chargers game when they won 27-3 and the Giants game, which they won 34-0, the Falcons have won by an average of 6.8 points per game, which seems pretty low for a 12-2 team.
The bottom line is that it has been difficult to criticize the Falcons thus far in the season, but with the conservative play calling, the Falcons will be exiting the playoffs early.