Falcons aim to improve red zone efficiency

The Sports Xchange

September 10, 2018 at 9:38 pm.

The Atlanta Falcons issues with their red-zone offense will be addressed this week as the team gets ready for its home opener against Carolina at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The team has placed an emphasis on their red-zone attack in preseason camp, but it was not obvious from the first game against Philadelphia. Atlanta made five trips inside the red zone but managed only one touchdown in an 18-12 loss to the Eagles.

“I do know that we had talked, where could we do it better, and execute better,” coach Dan Quinn said. “It goes without saying that we’ve put in a good bit of work there and we’re not going to assess where we’re at after one performance.”

Twice the Falcons reached the 1-yard line against the Eagles. Once they failed on fourth-and-goal, the other time they settled for a field goal. The only touchdown came when Tevin Coleman scored from the 9.

“That part of our game needs to improve, and it certainly will,” Quinn said. “We just know we have work to do in that spot. As we get ready, we’ll give it the attention and time it deserves. We certainly have players that we can feature down there in the very best way, so we’re going to work like crazy to get that done.”

In their last meeting in December, a 22-10 Atlanta win, the Falcons got inside the red zone three times against Carolina and settled for three field goals.

In their other meeting in 2017, a 20-17 Carolina win, the Falcons had two touchdowns on two red-zone possessions. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu and a 19-yard touchdown pass to Coleman.
“The psychological challenge is that we have a very resilient group,” Quinn said. “It’s really a tough group of guys. We’ve put a good bit of work in and we’ll continue to do that. We’ll go back in and clean those things up, but by no means is our psyche adjusted from one game.”

The play calling in the red zone continues to draw scrutiny. On one trip against Philadelphia, Julio Jones was not on the field.

“That’s just the natural rotation of players,” Quinn said. “Perhaps one of them did not have a receiver on the field on that goal line play. It didn’t stick out to me one way or another, we want (Jones) on the field all the time. We knew we weren’t going to have him play 75 straight plays.”

–FS Keanu Neal tore his ACL in the season opener against the Eagles. He is out for the season.

–DE Steven Means was signed to the 53-man roster and will play against Carolina. Means could play either OLB or DE for Atlanta, which is looking for additional pass rushers.
–LS Josh Harris missed last week’s game against the Eagles with a hip injury. His status is day-to-day.
–LB Deion Jones was limited by a foot injury early in practice. His status is day-to-day.
–CB Isaiah Oliver missed last week’s game against the Eagles with an ankle injury. He was limited in practice all last week. His status will be determined this week.
–DB Jordan Richards was moved from the practice squad to the active list to take the place of injured Keanu Neal. Richards played three seasons with New England before being acquired by the Falcons late in training camp.