Atlanta Falcons Favorite Plays: Running Game Is The Key

Andrew Tonge@@lwsportsnewsAnalyst IIMay 29, 2009

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 14: Running back Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes upfield against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers  at the Georgia Dome on December 14, 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

It is no secret that the success the Falcons found on offense last season centered around Michael Turner and the running game. 

Everything they do is based on that. Their zone blocking schemes and running packages give their backs the opportunity to read blocks and hit different holes.

This is what they like to do, and who they are on offense.

I-formation with fullback lead

This is a main staple in their running game.  They have different variations, but it is basically the same play. 

It is run up the middle, off-tackle, and off the edge. When they run it off the edge (tight end) they will pull two lineman to help Turner and Norwood get around the corner. 

Close to the goal line, they like to run it straight ahead.

Offset I-formation with fullback lead

Turner made a lot of yards running out of the offset I, sometimes running inside, and sometimes following his fullback. 

Single back (no fullback)

This formation yielded a ton of yards for Turner in 2008 and was extremely productive.  Turner has time to read the blocks, and frequently finds cutback lanes because of over-pursuit.

Atlanta will run this to the weak side, away from the tight end, as well as to the strong side, off-tackle. 

One of their favorite plays is the counter play out of this formation.  One step in one direction to get the flow of the defense going that way, and then take the hand off going in the other direction.

This is very effective, especially against teams that are quick off the ball. 

They run this single back formation with two H-backs on both sides of the line, and they run it off-tackle.  Because of the various packages they have with this formation, it keeps defenses off balance.

Play-action off the I, fly pattern

This play is made possible by the success and the respect their running game garners.  Matt Ryan and Roddy White have good chemistry on this.

Play-action, comeback pattern to wide receiver

Roddy White's speed made this an attractive and safe pass for a rookie quarterback.  The play-action holds the linebackers in place long enough to get White down the sideline in space.

This is also effective in getting their wide receivers in the seam behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties.  This works well against defenses that like to play a lot of "Tampa 2," or two deep zones.

The Falcons like to run.  That is their personality, so their favorite plays are based on that.  They have great run packages and a back that runs downhill and makes excellent reads. 

The play-action is a quarterbacks' best friend when the running game is successful because, as a defense, you have to commit the necessary personnel to stop the run and leave someone with one-on-one coverage.