Even though the Falcons won on Sunday, there were a lot of people unhappy with how close they came to losing the game despite holding an 18-point fourth-quarter lead. One thing Smith has been criticized for this season has been his infatuation with trying out rookie quarterback Feleipe Franks at different positions on offense.
Obviously, you never know if something is going to work unless you try it, but the offense still has a long way to go in terms of building consistency. Experimenting with Franks feels more like a luxury the Falcons can’t afford at the moment.
After Atlanta’s Week 9 win over New Orleans, Smith spoke to the media about his faith and trust in Franks, even in moments where the game is on the line.
“The drive before, tried to stay aggressive,” said Smith. “Credit to the Saints, they made plays. We were going to get into a three-yards and a cloud of dust, so we tried a couple of different things. Again, we went into a little zone read to see if we could get them — get some yards going. They played it pretty well. It shows the faith we have in Feleipe.”
It’s very easy to understand the style of play Feleipe brings. He’s not necessarily a run-first QB, but his usage this season has been been in run-first scenarios. However, with a surging Saints team that had stolen all momentum from the Falcons, the decision to take the ball out of Matt Ryan’s hands and place it into Franks’ seems like a highly questionable move.
Even though Franks can run better than Ryan, the fact remains that Ryan is a better option as a runner due to his ability to throw the ball if need be. The Saints’ defense obviously will play the run when they see Franks at quarterback. Given the scenario at hand, no matter how much faith and trust Smith has in the rookie, he doesn’t trust him enough to make the right decision when passing, especially over Matt Ryan.
As the season is ramping up for its final stretch, every game matters more with every passing week. Considering the team’s little margin for error due to its lack of depth, it would be pretty hard for Falcons fans to stomach the idea of losing a game due to the Franks experiment.
Watch the Smith’s entire postgame interview, via the team’s YouTube channel below.