Discipline continues to be a major issue
The Falcons may have not been one of the most penalized teams in 2015, but there were clearly discipline issues throughout the season. They made numerous boneheaded decisions that should just not happen at this level and it wound up costing them games. The 2016 season is only two games deep, but the discipline problem has only looked worse. Atlanta had several huge penalties on defense in week 1, most of which came on plays that would have forced the Bucs to punt. However, none of those looked as dumb as the Falcons having 12 players on the field on fourth down with the Raiders punting. Oakland went down the field and scored on that drive. Fortunately, Atlanta was able to escape with the win. These kind of mistakes go right on the coaching staff. I loved the Dan Quinn hiring, but the defense has shown very little improvement and the discipline has to get better or he could be looking for a job sooner than expected.
The defensive line. Wow
Quarterbacks heading into a matchup with the Falcons have to be just giddy. The Falcons have barely been able to get a hurry on a quarterback so far this season, let alone an actual sack. It has been horrific and things did not change against the Raiders. Carr had all day to throw, and once again, it is a testament to the secondary that the Raiders were not able to score more. Vic Beasley, who many expected to really be a force in year two, has been almost absent.Grady Jarrett looks like the only player who should even be on an NFL roster out there. The Oakland offensive line is one of the best in the league, so a huge game for the Falcons defensive line was not expected, but they were totally dominated as a unit. The Atlanta pass rush was the worst in the league last season and it looks even worse this season.
Atlanta’s offense flies high
The Falcons offense was undoubtedly the strong point coming into the season, and after a somewhat disappointing week one, Atlanta was able to put it altogether on the road in Oakland. Matt Ryan was nearly perfect, aside from one terrible redzone interception. He followed that interception with three straight touchdown drives to put the Falcons firmly in the lead. Ryan hit a ridiculous nine different receivers for multiple receptions on his way to a 97.5 QBR. It was not just Ryan hitting on all cylinders. The Falcons also rushed for 139 yards on 29 carries split about 60/40 in favor of Devonta Freeman. It was Tevin Coleman who scored the only rushing touchdown, but the offensive line deserves a ton of credit for doing a great job against a talented Raiders defensive line. Aside from all of that, the most important thing that happened Sunday was Shanahan allowing Ryan to use the no-huddle offense more in the second half. Atlanta went on a tear during that time and took control of a game that couldb have gone either way. The no-huddle offense has been one of Matt Ryan’s strengths for the entirety of his career, and Atlanta has to utilize it more going forward.