Atlanta Falcons' offense hasn't lived up to its billing

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ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons are doing pretty well on offense.

Atlanta rookie wide receiver Julio Jones, who was expected to add more fire to the Falcons' offense, has been hampered by hamstring injuries this season.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Atlanta rookie wide receiver Julio Jones, who was expected to add more fire to the Falcons' offense, has been hampered by hamstring injuries this season.

That’s hardly what they expected.

This team was supposed to be unstoppable with the ball in its hands, especially after adding Julio Jones to a unit that already had six Pro Bowlers.

But the points haven’t come quite as easily as everyone expected.

“It’s time for us to start turning that corner as an offense,” said tight end Tony Gonzalez, one of those Pro Bowlers from a season ago. “If you’re a good team, a playoff-type team, the type of team that hopefully can be a Super Bowl team, it’s that time of year.”

Indeed, the Falcons (6-4) need to shift into another gear, starting with today’s can’t-lose game against the Minnesota Vikings (2-8). Solid just won’t cut it anymore. This offense needs to be reach its full potential if Atlanta is going to have any chance to not only make the playoffs, but put in more than a one-and-done appearance.

“Maybe we’re not where we expected to be,” said running back Michael Turner, yet another Pro Bowler. “We just need to peak at the right time. Nobody is panicking right now. You want to peak at the right time and hopefully get to the playoffs and roll right on through. Like the Packers. You want to get hot at the right time. It’s not necessarily about being hot from week one.”

The Falcons are 12th in the league in total yards (369 per game), 14th in scoring (23.5), 10th in rushing yards (120.6) and 11th in passing efficiency.

But Atlanta expected more – much more – after dealing a hefty package of picks so it could draft Jones at No. 6 overall. He was supposed to be the missing link, an explosive receiver joining a unit that already included Gonzalez, Turner, quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Roddy White, tackle Tyson Clabo and fullback Ovie Mughelli.

Injuries have been an issue. Jones has missed three games and part of another with hamstring issues. Mughelli is out for the year. Still, even when the offense was at full strength, it wasn’t quite clicking like everyone expected.

“Underachieving” is Gonzalez’s blunt assessment. “We have been making plays,” he said. “We’re just not putting touchdowns in there, at least not the last couple of games. That’s all the more reason to say it’s time to turn that corner.”


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