Can the Vikings stop the Falcons passing attack?
One of the biggest strengths of the Falcons during this decade has been their reliance on the passing game. Head coach Dan Quinn and Atlanta rode the team’s air attack to an appearance in the Super Bowl three years ago. But things seemed to be a little less organized for the past two seasons under former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkesian.
Now that the former USC head coach has been shown the door, Quinn went back into the Falcons past to bring back Dirk Koetter to run the offense this year.
Koetter’s first stint in Atlanta from 2012 to 2014 was a huge success as he helped take the chains off Matt Ryan and he helped develop him into one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the franchise. Ryan had one of the greatest stretches of his career under Koetter, averaging 4,632 yards per season and throwing for 86 touchdowns and 45 interceptions.
What’s even more impressive is that a majority of the Falcons’ 2013 season was played without top target Julio Jones. Atlanta ranked sixth (2012), seventh (2013) and fifth (2014) in passing offense during Koetter’s three years with the team.
While also ranking in the top three in passing attempts during those final two seasons, it’s scary to think what Koetter could do with Ryan’s improvement under center since the coach left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015.
Ryan’s performance has improved to an elite level in two of the past three seasons, winning the MVP award in 2016 (4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, 7 interceptions) and having a similar performance statistically in 2018 (4,924 yards, 35 touchdowns, 7 interceptions).
Even with Jones threatening to hold out of Sunday’s game (I’m guessing he’ll wind up playing), the Falcons’ air attack is still going to be a big concern for the Vikings’ thin secondary.
While Minnesota will have all three starting cornerbacks (Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander) at full strength, the task of containing Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu will be a tall one, especially if one of the Vikings’ big three goes down with an injury.