5 things needed to fix the Falcons’ offense

FLOWERY BRANCH — Offensive coordinator Dave Ragone knows the Falcons have to get the offense in gear soon.

The Falcons (2-1) are set to play the Jaguars (1-2) at 9:30 a.m. ET at Wembley Stadium in London and on 35 possessions, they’ve scored only five touchdowns and seven field goals.

The unit is coming off a game in which it didn’t score a touchdown and had to settle for two field goals. The offensive line gave up seven sacks and eight quarterback hits as the Lions stopped the rushing attack and dared the Falcons to throw.

So, Ragone, running back Bijan Robinson, quarterback Desmond Ridder, left tackle Jake Matthews and coach Arthur Smith were asked what needs to improve on offense.

Here the five main issues:

1. Better opening drives: The Falcons have opened all three games slowly.

In the season opener against the Panthers, the Falcons went three-and-out. The next week against the Packers, they picked up 9 yards, 7 yards and then tossed an interception on the third play of the game.

The Falcons’ offense had another three-and-out to open against the Lions.

A better start likely would allow the offense to get into a rhythm.

“There are always variables,” Ragone said. “There are different things that we try to account for and self-evaluate. Ultimately, any time you don’t end a possession in a score, you want to see what those reasons where.”

The Falcons will look at the design of the play, the scheme and to what the defense did to stop the plays. On the interception, Ridder was hit by Green Bay defensive tackle Kenny Clark, who beat rookie left guard Matthew Bergeron.

There also are pure fundamentals and execution.

“Our goal is to score,” Ragone said. “So, when we don’t do that regardless of what quarter we’re talking about, we go back and we reevaluate. We are constantly doing that.”

2. Get Pitts the ball: On the second possession against Detroit, Ridder tossed the ball behind Kyle Pitts, who was open deep running across the field.

Later in the game, Ridder and Pitts didn’t connect up the right sideline on a deep ball.

If teams are going to come up to focus on Robinson and Tyler Allgeier in the run game, Ridder has to make his deep throws count.

“Kyle is a guy that he is a big body frame; he’s not usually one that you have to throw a perfect ball, you got to lead them,” Ridder said. “So, that first one I tried to lead him, tried to drop it in the bucket, and that’s one where he’s open, he’s wide open.”

Pitts has caught 9 of 17 targets for 100 yards. At 33.3 yards receiving per game, he’s on pace for 567 yards receiving over 17 games.

Ridder thought the safety was 5 yards off Pitts up the sideline and figured he could get Pitts the ball.

“The more vertical (route), it was press-bail coverage,” Ridder said. “I kind of thought that I lost him, but I also thought he had a step on him. Should just be kind of a 50/50 back-shoulder ball. But like I said, Kyle’s the guy where you just got to put it up in the area, and he’ll go make a play.”

3. Robinson on physicality: Robinson, who was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft, is off to a strong start.

“Just physicality,” Robinson said. “We have to come in there and play our regular football.”

In the 20-6 loss to the Lions, the Falcons were out-hit.

“We didn’t do that in Detroit, and they took advantage of it,” Robinson said. “We got smacked in the mouth.”

That wasn’t a good feeling after the Falcons had beaten Carolina and pulled off a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Packers.

“So, just having that feeling and understanding that we’ve got so much talent on this team,” Robinson said. “We have to play a physical brand of football. So that we ... make sure they feel us.”

4. Blocking is fundamental: The Falcons believe their offensive line is fine and are not considering any personnel changes at this time.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our line,” Smith said. “That was the first time in a long time that we hadn’t run the ball well. Credit to Detroit.”

The Falcons prefer not to get into obvious drop-back passing situations.

“If it becomes a pattern, then things have to change, but that’s in anything, whether scheming, what you’re doing, what you’re asking guys to do, but we’ve found a way to win two games,” Smith said. “I know sometimes (after losses), it feels like the world ends.”

Part of Smith’s job is to keep things perspective.

“We have a chance to go win our third game and go 3-1 against a really good Jacksonville team,” Smith said.

5. Not a knockout loss: Robinson took his first NFL loss hard.

“For me, I thought everybody would be kind of down,” Robinson said. “But everybody was like more ready to play the next game than they were trying to mope around. And like for me, like I hate to lose. So, I came in trying to see everybody else. But I saw Bud (Dupree) in the locker room when I walked in and he was ‘dude, you’re good.’”

Robinson needed the uplift.

“He was like, you’ll be all right,” Robinson said. “And that really like helped me out. So, it’s been super positive now going into this game. I think we’re all ready to go play.”

Robinson, who played at Texas, is used to one loss or two losses knocking you out of contention for the national title in college.

“I forgot like the NFL zone was different than college,” Robinson said. “But you still want to win every game. And we’ve worked so hard to try to win every game. So, you know, it was a little tough at first, but then I tried to get over it.”

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