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Falcons Off Balance With No Safety Net

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Atlanta's lack of a true threat out of the backfield since RB Steven Jackson's injury has allowed opposing defenses to focus on the passing game, resulting in a 1-3 start for the Falcons. Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.
Atlanta's lack of a true threat out of the backfield since RB Steven Jackson's injury has allowed opposing defenses to focus on the passing game, resulting in a 1-3 start for the Falcons. Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first so that we can continue with more valid information.

The NFL is a passing league.

Teams get a majority of their points out of their passing game.

The rules are set up to benefit teams that love to throw the football.

The 1-3 Atlanta Falcons have a balancing issue. For a team that has made its recent success with a formidable passing game, the Falcons used to be able to rely on a solid and efficient running game. This allowed them to maintain an effective play action pass game while keeping QB Matt Ryan clean.

Whether you choose to blame it on moves made this offseason, injuries to the offensive line or injuries to the running backs and receivers, this Falcons offense is throwing the ball more than they ever have in team history.

Ryan has thrown the ball 173 times thus far this season, putting him on pace for over 690 attempts. His previous high was 615 in 2012. The problem with that is that the Falcons have only attempted 75 rushes from scrimmage. That is a differential of 98 more throws through four games.

Only the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns are worse in the NFL, having thrown the ball 110 and 103 times more, respectively. Here is a breakdown of how some teams stack up in the NFC:

Atlanta Falcons: Plus 98 passes

New Orleans Saints: Plus 96 passes

Seattle Seahawks: Plus 35 runs

Minnesota Vikings: Plus 14 passes

Chicago Bears: Plus 49 passes

Detroit Lions: Plus 49 passes

Green Bay Packers: Plus 49 passes

Dallas Cowboys: Plus 63 passes

Washington Redskins: Plus 81 passes

New York Giants: Plus 85 passes

Denver Broncos: Plus 36 passes

New England Patriots: Plus 36 passes

San Francisco 49ers: Balanced