1. Matt Ryan hasn’t yet had the breakthrough season many projected. He’s tied for 17th among in NFL quarterbacks in passing efficiency. He’s tied for 22nd in yards per attempt. He’s tied for 20th in completion percentage. He was very good against the Cardinals and Saints, so-so against everybody else. He’s excellent on third down — he’s not known as Matty Ice for nothing — but as an every-down quarterback he isn’t significantly better than he was as a rookie. (Granted, he was great as a rookie.)
2. Michael Turner is sleeker than he was a year ago but no more effective. Last season Turner showed up heavy and only started to rumble in midseason, whereupon he hurt his ankle. This time Turner reported leaner and presumably meaner, but his numbers don’t reflect the upgrade in conditioning. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 79.2 yards per game in 2009; he’s averaging 4.3 and 77.7 now. He scored 17 touchdowns in 2008, 10 more last season. He has scored once in 2010.
3. The Falcons are better at gaining yards than scoring points. They’re ninth in the league in total offense, which reflects yardage, but tied for 11th in points. According to TeamRankings.com, their red-zone offense is tied for 21st among 32 NFL clubs. (And this with Tony Gonzalez, the ultimate red-zone weapon.)
4. They kick too many field goals. Again referring to TeamRankings.com, the Falcons are tied for second in the NFL with 2.7 FG attempts per game. (They’re tied for 17th in touchdowns per game.) This tells us they’re moving the ball — just not far enough.
5. The defense is better but still not Super Bowl caliber. The Falcons ranked 24th in total defense in 2008, 21st in 2009. They’re 18th now — those 474 yards amassed by the Eagles dropped the Falcons seven spots — and their pass efficiency defense is tied for 25th . Opponents have completed 68.6 percent of their passes, which means the quarterbacks who have played against the Falcons (Dennis Dixon, Derek Anderson, Max Hall, Drew Brees, Alex Smith, Seneca Wallace, Jake Delhomme and Kevin Kolb) have been more accurate than Ryan has against their respective defenses. Which shouldn’t be the case.