Mystery: Atlanta's play-action game

The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information sent over a massive packet this morning to help us prepare for the NFL draft. I’ll be sharing much of that with you in the coming days.

I was just taking a look through the packet and one stat I saw about the Falcons really left me perplexed. Just going on perception, I would have thought the Falcons were pretty good on play-action passes. After all, they’ve got Michael Turner and opposing defenses seem to focus on him.

Turns out the Falcons weren’t good on play-action passes last year. In fact, they were terrible. They had the lowest completion percentage in the league on play-action passes. Atlanta completed 54 of 102 passes on play-action. That’s 52.9 percent. The Jets were No. 31 at 53.7 percent and the Raiders No. 30 at 56.8 percent.

The Falcons had a 77.2 passer rating on play-action passes and that number jumped to 81.1 on all other passes. Again, this is puzzling because the Falcons are set up to be a team that has success on play-action.

I don’t have any real strong theories on why Atlanta struggled in this area. If you think you’ve got the answer, send it to the mailbag or share it in the comments section below.