The Atlanta Falcons have a far better red-zone offense than a year ago.

They’ve scored touchdowns on 16 of 23 trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard line and have come away with points 20 times.

‘You look internally and the biggest places that we needed to focus on was the red zone’

That isn’t happening by accident, according to tight end Austin Hooper, who has been one of the Falcons’ most impactful pass catchers with nine receptions in each of the past two weeks.

“It just starts in the offseason,” Hooper told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on Late Hits (Ch. 88). “You look internally and the biggest places that we needed to focus on was the red zone. I mean, we were top five league in terms of converting third downs. We did a lot of cool things offensively last year, but the Achilles heel, if you will, was getting in that red zone and instead of settling for three points, we’ve got to punch it in.

‘Getting a lot more reps, that is giving everyone a deeper understanding of what to do down there’

“So, starting the offseason, we scripted, built in a lot more red-zone periods within our practices just to get more opportunities down there, get a more general feel of the limited space and the tighter windows for both the quarterback and the route runners. Those windows press quickly, so understanding that timing and getting a lot more reps, that is giving everyone a deeper understanding of what to do down there.”

Overall, the Falcons’ offense found its groove in last Sunday’s 34-29 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to improve their record to 2-4.

‘We’re very blessed in the sense we have a lot of playmakers on the offensive side of the football’

“I feel like what we did extremely well was spread the ball around,” Hooper said. “We’re very blessed in the sense we have a lot of playmakers on the offensive side of the football, so we did a good job distributing those opportunities to all different guys within our offense and even got (running back) Tevin (Coleman) to get outside on some outside zone plays, which opened up some play-action, so I felt that was huge.”

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