5. Hello, Pass Rush
The Falcons expected to have a noticeably more complete defensive line coming into the season. They showed flashes of it in week one, sacking Mike Glennon three times, but were still far too inconsistent. However, Chicago features one of the league’s best offensive lines. Green Bay does not and was without both of their starting tackles for this prime time matchup. It was a situation the Falcons defense should have taken advantage of, and they made the most of it, slaughtering Aaron Rodgers throughout the game. The most promising thing about the performance was how seemingly everybody was involved. Linebacker De’Vondre Campbell came up with his first career sack, Takkarist McKinley delivered two vicious hits on Rodgers, while a familiar face in Vic Beasley Jr. made the biggest play of the game with a sack fumble that resulted in an Atlanta touchdown to begin the third quarter. This appears to be an exciting young group and the scary part is they are just cracking their potential.
4. The Falcons have the Packers number
You know the expression styles make fights, right? Well, the Falcons are clearly a mismatch for Green Bay on both sides of the ball. Sunday night’s victory was the third time the Falcons have beaten the Packers in less than a calendar year. The Green Bay defense has had no answer for this explosive Atlanta offense in any three of the contests, as the Falcons have scored 111 points combined over the three games. Meanwhile Green Bay’s offense, for the most part, seems wildly out of sync against Atlanta. While they have not been fully healthy for the past two games, the Falcons defense has still managed to hold Rodgers to seven total points in the first halves of their last two meetings compared to Atlanta’s forty-eight.
3. Kyle Shanahan who?
Much has been made about the departure of former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, but after two weeks a lot of that looks to be overblown. The Falcons carved up the Packers “improved” defense just as easily on Sunday as they did in the NFC Championship game in January. There is no question Shanahan is a fantastic offensive mind, but Steve Sarkisian is proving that he is no slouch either. He has been around both the college and pro levels of football for quite some time for a guy his age. He has an outstanding understanding for the offensive side of the football himself, and let’s not forger, and absolute treasure chest of weapons to work with. It is not to say the offensive coordinator does not matter, but when you have a quarterback like Matt Ryan and the number of explosive weapons that the Falcons have, it looks like this offense can be successful no matter who is calling the shots.
2. Vastly improved offensive line play
One of the most interesting things to watch this week was how the Atlanta offensive line would bounce back after a poor overall performance in week one versus Chicago. Wes Schweitzer was miles better in week two, and the right side of the line got even more inexperienced when Ryan Schraeder went down with a concussion on the final play of the opening drive. Ty Sambrailo releived Schraeder, and while at times he was overpowered for a sack or a pressure, he played relatively well. Concussions usually take at least a week off to heal, so Sambrailo will likely be called upon once again to start next week in Detroit.
1. Pray for health
Many Falcons went down in last night’s game. Ryan Schraeder left the game in the first quarter with a concussion and never returned, Courtney Upshaw left the game with an ankle injury and Vic Beasley Jr. will reportedly miss about a month with a hamstring injury. While noneof these injuries appear to be season-ending, it is never pretty to see anybody miss time, especially players as important as Schraeder and Beasley. With the way the Falcons have looked over their last twelve games, they are the team to beat in the NFL. One of the only things that can kill that is the injury bug that finds a way to plague too many teams each and every season.