Falcons’ TD-less over last 26 possessions

111821 Atlanta: Falcons running back Qadree Ollison is leveled at the line of scrimmage by Patriots defensive lineman Christian Barmore during the second half in a NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Atlanta.    “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”
Caption
111821 Atlanta: Falcons running back Qadree Ollison is leveled at the line of scrimmage by Patriots defensive lineman Christian Barmore during the second half in a NFL football game on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, in Atlanta. “Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com”

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

FLOWERY BRANCH -- Without some of his key weapons for the foreseeable future, Falcons coach Arthur Smith, formerly an offensive coordinator, must figure out how to get his offense back on track.

Over the last 26 possessions, the Falcons have not scored a touchdown and have just two field goals.

Since Olamide Zaccheaus caught a 6-yard touchdown pass with 10:46 to play against the Saints on Nov. 7, the Falcons have not scored a touchdown.

The Falcons rallied to beat the Saints 27-25, but were pummeled 43-3 by Dallas and 25-0 by New England to follow.

The Falcons (4-6) are set to play the Jaguars (2-8) at 1 p.m. Sunday at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. Smith promised to fix the issues.

“I’m not gonna get into the schematic stuff that I will probably tweak here,” Smith said. “There won’t be any major changes when you’re in the middle of the season. Like every team, you’re dealing with the injuries and things that come up. We’ve clearly got to play better. We’ve got to play smarter. You know, really go back to Thursday night, (we) didn’t handle situational football (well).”

The Falcons appears set to move on without wide receiver Calvin Ridley (mental health/non-football injury list), running back Cordarelle Patterson (ankle sprain) and tight end Hayden Hurst (ankle/injured reserve).

Over the scoring drought, the Falcons have punted 12 times, thrown seven interceptions, been stopped on fourth down three times, kicked two field goals, missed one field goal and had the ball at the end of the half. Of the 12 punts, 10 were on three-and-outs.

“Yeah, that’s pretty accurate, there,” Smith said. “You know, a lot of it, you go back to situational football. Right, the first two drives at the Dallas game, you’ve got a chance to put points on the board. ... We kick a field goal on the first possession, second possession (stopped on fourth and 1), a couple three and outs. We don’t handle the end of the half and get a punt blocked.”

And just like magic, its 36-3 at the half against Dallas.

Winning the field position battles and drive starts have been an issue over the 26 possessions. Only three of the drives started beyond the Falcons’ 30-yard line. Five of the drives have started inside their own 20-yard line.

The Falcons’ first possession against New England started on the 4-yard line. “We started the game backed up,” Smith said.

The Falcons’ defense kept the game close, but the offense could never get moving. The offense blew two good scoring opportunities after driving deep into New England territory.

Down 10-0, The Falcons had a third-and-1 on the Patriots’ 14-yard line, but quarterback Matt Ryan got sacked for a 13-yard loss. Kicker Younghoe Koo made the 45-yard field goal, but it was nullified when Jason Spriggs lined up in an illegal formation. Koo then missed the 50-yard field goal attempt.

The Falcons couldn’t even get a spark from A.J. Terrell’s electrifying interception and 34-yard return in the third quarter.

Down 13-0 in the third quarter, fullback Keith Smith was stopped on third-and-1 from New England’s 16. Qadree Ollison was stuffed on fourth down-and-1.

“You still have your chances late in the game in the (third) quarter,” Smith said. “A.J. makes the play. You have a chance to get down there and (score) but you know, we didn’t. Credit to the Patriots.”

You want to score when you get turnovers and the Falcons did not.

“We didn’t play very well situationally,” Smith said. “We just have to play a lot smarter than we have the last two weeks.”

The common theme is that the offensive line hasn’t been able to scratch out tough yards and failed to protect the quarterback.

“We’re going to see how the week plays out,” said Smith when asked if he planned any personnel changes along the line. “We’ll see how the week plays out. Everything is on the table.”

At the base of the Falcons’ offensive woes is that they have trouble running the football and then the opposing defense doesn’t have to respect the play-action fakes in the passing game.

The Falcons are averaging 78.6 yards rushing per game, which is 30th out of 32nd in the league. Smith doesn’t want to put the line in obvious pass blocking situations.

“We’ve got to do a better job in the run game,” Smith said. “Become more efficient to allow you to stay on track.”

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Falcons’ 2021 schedule features trip to London, January trip to Buffalo

Atlanta Falcons schedule and scores

Eagles 32, Falcons 6

Buccaneers 48, Falcons 25

Falcons 17, Giants 14

Washington 34, Falcons 30

Falcons 27, Jets 20

Bye Week

Falcons 30, Dolphins 28

Panthers 19, Falcons 13

Falcons 27, Saints 25

Cowboys 43, Falcons 3

Patriots 25, Falcons 0

Next four games

Falcons at Jacksonville, 1 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 28

Tampa Bay at Falcons, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

Falcons at Carolina, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12

Falcons at San Francisco, 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 19

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