It’s Week 8, and the Fire Steve Sarkisian movement is already gaining steam among Falcons fans.
Atlanta hired Sarkisian away from Alabama this offseason to take the reins of the NFL’s top offense after Kyle Shanahan departed to take the head-coaching position in San Francisco. Instead, he’s become the butt of jokes across the Twittersphere—and the Falcons’ 23–7 loss to the Patriots in Foxborough, dropping the 2016 NFC champions to 3–3 and third in the NFC South, only intensified that.
Heading into the 2017 season, Atlanta knew there was going to be a drop-off—it would be a near miracle if the Falcons’ offense maintained the level of production from last season—but this one is hard to stomach for fans dreaming of Super Bowl redemption. Atlanta's slip from No. 1 in points scored and No. 2 in offensive yards to No. 16 and No. 7, respectively, through six games is one of if not the biggest NFL storyline as we near the halfway point.
The Falcons’ passing game, particularly when throwing deep down the field and in the red zone, has the faithful worried. Through six games in 2016, QB Matt Ryan was 14-of-23 on passes traveling more than 20 yards downfield through six games. This season, he’s 4-of-21. Ryan was unstoppable in the red zone a year ago, completing 62% of his passes with 23 touchdowns and one interception from inside the 20-yard line. This year, he’s completed just half of his passes with four touchdowns and a pick through six games, and all-world receiver Julio Jones entered the game against the Patriots with a single red zone target to his name.
Some of that, surely, is on Ryan—a handful of throws in Foxborough immediately come to mind. But a big portion of the blame has to be placed on Sarkisian.
This is Sarkisian’s first NFL job since he was quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders over a decade ago. A year after being fired from Southern Cal (following a brief stop at Alabama), he's put in a room with one of the best quarterbacks in the league, one of the best receivers in the league, and two running backs who could both start for just about any team. It’s safe to say that there was never going to be much patience outside of the Falcons facility.
We can all watch a game on television and see through the fog that something is wrong with this offense, but we outsiders don’t know the difference between growing pains and dysfunction. So I asked two Falcons offensive players I trust.
Despite ‘Disorganized’ Offensive Approach, Moving on From Steve Sarkisian Not an Option for Falcons
SI | Oct 26