By Nick Shook
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The Falcons‘ offense has often embodied its mascot, becoming a high-flying air show that has even produced a 300-yard receiving game for one Atlanta target.
Atlanta ranks just behind NFC South foe and league-leading New Orleans in both total offense and passing yards per game. It’s drawn praise and respect from nearly every opponent the Falcons have faced — except the Eagles.
Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was quick to heap great words on Falcons receiver Julio Jones — the man responsible for the aforementioned 300-yard explosion — but also downplayed the effectiveness of Atlanta’s offensive coaching.
“The Falcons use a lot of [what] I would call ‘individual routes,'” Schwartz told reporters in Philadelphia, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They try to spread the field. Itâs a little bit basketballesque, I’d say, in trying to get some isolations.
“They’re a very disciplined offense when it comes to routes. There’s some — I don’t want to say schoolyard — but some schoolyard, backyard-type concepts to their routes: some ‘get-open type concepts. Some of those aren’t exactly quick passes; some of those take a little bit [of time to develop].”
We’ve yet to hear offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s response, but depending on how the game unfolds Sunday, we could see a rebuttal in a postgame presser. Calling routes “schoolyard,” even if prefaced with explaining that isn’t the term he wanted to use, immediately after complimenting his opponents by calling them disciplined is a great example of Schwartz’s old mental tactics. We’ve seen it in all areas of the game — in the lead-up to the game, in the game and immediately after, both in his triumphant punches of air and his reaction to aggressive postgame handshakes.
His Eagles rank seventh in the league against the pass, but much of that is predicated on their pass rush, responsible for the fifth-most sacks in the NFL (tied with Tennessee at 23). Perhaps that attitude is what Philadelphia needs to take down the NFC South leader. They better hope it doesn’t turn into bulletin board material.