How Atlanta Falcons Offensive Personnel Changes with New Coordinator Zac Robinson

Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Zac Robinson anticipates a change in personnel groupings.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins isn't the only big change on the Atlanta Falcons' offense.
Quarterback Kirk Cousins isn't the only big change on the Atlanta Falcons' offense. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons' offense has no shortage of new faces, and the way they'll be utilized this fall may also take some time getting used to.

Naturally, most attention goes to quarterback Kirk Cousins, who signed a four-year, $180 million contract this spring, and a new-look receiver room featuring acquisitions Darnell Mooney, Ray-Ray McCloud and Rondale Moore, among others.

The Falcons also return several standouts, including running back Bijan Robinson, receiver Drake London, tight end Kyle Pitts and their entire starting offensive line.

But not lost in the players on the field are the coaches off it - starting at the top with new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson, who followed head coach Raheem Morris from the Los Angeles Rams.

Robinson's offense, which he and other assistants have said is a mixture of the Rams' scheme and some of the concepts the Falcons have done well in recent years, turned heads during OTAs and minicamp for the dizzying shifts and frequent motions incorporated within it.

Moving players around the formation isn't new. Nor is the quick pace Robinson wants his offense run. But the Falcons will look different this fall - by closer resembling the rest of the NFL.

Robinson hails from an offense that led the league in running 11 personnel - one running back, one tight end, three receivers - last season at 93.1 percent. The Falcons, conversely, ranked last league-wide in 11 personnel with a miniscule 15.5 percent.

However, Atlanta led the league in 12 personnel - one running back, two tight ends, two receiver - looks at a 41.8 percent clip. The Rams, meanwhile, were last in 12 personnel, running such formations only 4.9 percent of the time.

Part of the reason for the Falcons' stark difference is the versatility of Pitts, who has, historically, played extensively from the slot. Last season, Pitts played 728 snaps - with 352 coming in the slot, according to ESPN.

When Pitts aligns in the slot and the Falcons have another tight end attached to the line of scrimmage, the personnel grouping technically qualifies as 12, but it's shown in an 11 personnel look.

Such an option excites Robinson, who forecasted Atlanta can use backup tight end Charlie Woerner to pair with Pitts and put defenses in mismatch scenarios.

And so, the Falcons won't go away from those looks - they'll still run plenty of 12 personnel packages with Pitts in the slot, serving as an 11 personnel look, but Robinson believes the number of snaps out of true 11 personnel will rise.

"Certainly, my background over the last five years has been 11 personnel," Robinson told FalconsSI. "It really is going to go game by game in terms of how much we're in 11 and how much we're in 12 and we are always evolving with those things.

"But certainly would expect a little bit of an uptick in 11 personnel."

Beyond Robinson's influence as a play-caller, Atlanta's receiver room is similarly well-suited for more three-wideout looks. By adding Moore and McCloud, there's a pair of players with professional slot experience capable of producing when opportunities arise.

And in Robinson's offense, slot snaps for traditional receivers appear far more probable than before.


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Daniel Flick

DANIEL FLICK

Daniel Flick is an accredited NFL writer for Sports Illustrated's FanNation. Daniel has provided boots-on-ground coverage at the NFL Combine and from the Atlanta Falcons' headquarters, among other destinations, and contributed to the annual Lindy's Sports Magazine ahead of the 2023 offseason. Daniel is a co-host on the 404TheFalcon podcast and previously wrote for the Around the Block Network and Georgia Sports Hospitality Media.