Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First-Team Success

The Atlanta Falcons scored on their first drive of the game Thursday in Cleveland, a near-perfect start to the contest and a well-executed possession. The play-calling was balanced with four pass plays and five rushes. The entire drive lasted 4:09 and traveled 71 yards on nine plays.

As important as the score and efficiency of the drive, Atlanta needed this successful outing on offense after the first-team struggled against Washington.

Play 1: First Quarter — 14:00 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Atlanta’s 29
Down & Distance: First & 10
Package: 12 Personnel (one RB, two tight ends)

falcons browns drive 1 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

A booming punt and a Nick Williams holding penalty pushed the Falcons back to their own 29. If there was ever a great need for a positive start to a drive, Atlanta’s first possession was a must after two consecutive three-and-outs in Week 1 of the preseason.

Devonta Freeman (blue line) was sent out to the flats on the left side from the backfield while Mohamed Sanu (black line) lined on the right side close to the line of scrimmage and ran a go route down the middle of the field. Julio Jones (yellow line) started on the left side and ran a 10-yard in route. While Freeman’s and Sanu’s route were designed to drag defenders away from the play, Jones’ put him in good position to potentially block for Jacob Tamme.

Tamme (red line) started on the left side and dragged across the backfield in front of Matt Ryan. Instead of blocking for his quarterback, Tamme released into the flat on the right side and caught Ryan’s pass. Because he had space, Tamme was able to rumble for nine yards before going out of bounds.

A positive play to begin the game was vital for Atlanta, and gaining nine yards to put the team in a short-yardage situation was key to putting last week’s demons to bed.

Play 2: First Quarter — 13:30 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Atlanta’s 38
Down & Distance: Second & 1
Package: 12 Personnel (one RB, two tight ends)

falcons browns drive 2 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

Atlanta started this second-down play in 12 Personnel but sent Freeman (red line) in motion out wide left before the snap, creating an empty backfield.

Tamme (black line) ran a short in while Levine Toilolo (white line) released straight up the seam on the right side. Jones (yellow line) and Freeman to his outside ran go routes on the left. Sanu (blue line) started on the outside on the right and ran a short hitch route.

Sanu had plenty of space because his defender was playing so far off the line of scrimmage, but Ryan’s throw was off target toward the sideline and incomplete.

Play 3: First Quarter — 13:20 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Atlanta’s 38
Down & Distance: Third & 1
Package: 22 Personnel (two RBs, two tight ends)

falcons browns drive 3 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

In a 22 Personnel package the Falcons wanted to power the ball on the ground for a first down. Patrick DiMarco (yellow line) set the lead block for Freeman (red line) who started running left and cut back to the right and squirted through the “A” gap as the line blocked left.

Freeman got through the line without meeting contact and was hit by a linebacker after passing the first-down line. He spun and efforted for a few more yards to push the ball to the 43.

freeman first down Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

That play was Atlanta’s first successful first down of the preseason from the first-team offense.

Play 4: First Quarter — 12:48 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Atlanta’s 43
Down & Distance: First & 10
Package: 12 Personnel (one RB, two tight ends)

falcons browns drive 4 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

On first down, the Falcons went back to two receivers, two tight ends and Freeman in the backfield alone. Freeman (red line) ran to the right side and moved through space to gain five yards.

Give credit to Tamme, right tackle Ryan Schraeder and center Alex Mack for creating all that space for Freeman to maneuver through. Had any of those three lineman not controlled their assignment, the play would have failed.

falcons browns drive 4a Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

In addition to the three blocks to open the hole for Freeman, look at Chris Chester (65) and Jones downfield making sure their running  back gains yards before he’s met with resistance.

Play 5: First Quarter — 12:21 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Atlanta’s 48
Down & Distance: Second & 5
Package: 21 Personnel (two RBs, one tight end)

falcons browns drive 5 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

Tevin Coleman’s (red line) first carry of the game was positive for four yards. As DiMarco (yellow line) led with a block on Cleveland linebacker Christian Kirksey to delay initial contact, Coleman stayed inside through the “A” gap of the offensive line.

Kirksey still made the tackle, but the difference DiMarco’s block made was huge. FOur yards could have been zero had DiMarco not hit the Cleveland linebacker before Coleman hit the line of scrimmage.

Play 6: First Quarter — 11:44 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Cleveland’s 48
Down & Distance: Third and 1
Package: 22 Personnel (two RBs, two tight ends)

falcons browns drive 6 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

With a short-yardage package in the game, Atlanta ran a play-action fake to DiMarco (blue line) who ran out into the flats on the right side after the fake. The offensive line blocked left.

Freeman (red line) ran out into the flats on the left side while Jones (yellow line) ran a drag route across the field from left to right.

julio play 6 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

Play 7: First Quarter — 11:10 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Cleveland’s 28
Down & Distance: First & 10
Package: 21 Personnel (two RBs, one tight end)

falcons browns drive 7 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

Coleman (blue line) and DiMarco (yellow line) came into the game on first down to continue this first Falcons’ drive. Both receivers (one on each side) ran go routes to take their defenders out of the play.

DiMarco led out to the left and laid a vicious block on a defensive back in the box to keep him from engaging with Coleman. Tight end D.J. Tialavea and left tackle Jake Matthews open a big hole on the outside so Coleman made it through the line without contact.

Coleman was brought down three yards later by Kirksey.

Play 8: First Quarter — 10:34 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Cleveland’s 25
Down & Distance: Second & 7
Package: 10 Personnel (one RB, zero tight ends)

falcons browns drive 8 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

With seven yards to go on second down, Atlanta came out with four receivers for the first time in this drive, although one of the receivers was the tight end, Tamme (blue line), split out to the right.

Jones started on the outside on the left and Sanu (yellow line) was in the slot left before coming in motion pre-snap to the right side. Hardy was split out wide right (off screen below, blue line).

After coming to set, Sanu immediately released into the flats on the right side where Ryan hit him with a quick pass. With Tamme and Hardy blocking out front, Sanu pushed forward for six yards before being tackled. It didn’t take much to spring Sanu. Tamme’s bump block was quick, but enough to push the Cleveland defender off his line to where he was unable to get a bead on Sanu.

Play 9: First Quarter — 9:57 Remaining — Score Tied at 0

Play Began: Cleveland’s 19
Down & Distance: Third & 1
Package: 22 Personnel (two RBs, two tight ends)

falcons browns drive 9 Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

The Falcons used only one wide receiver on this play, another third-and-short situation. With one yard needed for the first down, Atlanta pushed forward with some power blocking and just asked Freeman to hit the right side and move forward.

While every Falcons blocker nailed his assignment, the run was broken open by Freeman (red line) because Browns defensive back Justin Gilbert either took himself out of position to make a tackle or didn’t get the help he needed. Gilbert took away the edge which forced Freeman back inside toward the middle of the defense. It’s possible Gilbert thought he had help (or was supposed to have it) and he did exactly as his assignment was laid out. But the Falcons’ line had everyone sealed off from making a play.

freeman td Drive Of The Week: Balanced Attack Gives First Team Success

Freeman bounced outside and angled 19 yards for a score. A couple of Browns defenders gave chase but couldn’t reach the Atlanta ball carrier.

 

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