The Falcons defense came as advertised
Dan Quinn has pieced together a perfect puzzle defensively. It starts at the back end with an experienced secondary that does not give up the big play. At the next level, Deion Jones might be a top three middle linebacker in the NFL. His ability to come up and make plays in the running game while being able to cover anybody on the field is second to none. He led the team with nine tackles and had an interception in the game.
Although, those are things we were aware of coming into the season. The Falcons defense displayed a couple of impressive new things last night as well. First off, Damontae Kazee is the real deal. His spectacular preseason was no fluke, as he was forced into action when Keanu Neal went down. All he did was come what with the biggest play of the game for the Falcons, a bone crushing hit on Dallas Goedert that led to a Deion Jones interception and the Falcons only touchdown of the game.
Secondly, the defensive front was spectacular for the most part. My biggest question mark heading into this one was how would they be able to handle this gargantuan Philadelphia offensive line. For three quarters and about ten drives they controlled the line of scrimmage. Injuries and the Falcons inept offense were not doing them any favors. However, everyone chipped in against the run, and Foles rarely had much time to throw. Grady Jarrett led the bunch, but rookie Deadrin Senat looked fantastic. If he can continue to grow next to Jarret, this defense is going to look deadly sixteen weeks from now.
Where are the other guys?
Yeah, Julio Jones is an absolute freak of nature. He was the best player on the field last night bar none. The problem was none of the other weapons showed up. Aside from a few key first-down catches, Mohamed Sanu was absent. First-round pick, Calvin Ridley literally did not catch a ball. The versatile duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman only caught four passes out of the backfield for 40 yards.
Julio was targeted 19 times, caught 10 balls for 169 of the Falcons 251 yards receiving. It seemed like every time Ryan dropped back to pass, his eyes were peeled on Jones. It is not necessarily a bad thing, but Ryan is at his best when he his distributing the ball to everybody. There is way too much talent on the field for it to become a one man show like that. Freeman and Coleman need to be utilized as weapons in the passing game and not just on screen passes. These are two players with terrific hands and route running ability that are simply not being used to their full potential. This cannot be the trend going forward if Atlanta wants to compete in the division.
Hope Atlanta has a backup plan
Now, I do not want to be the one to overreact to week one losses. This is the NFL, anybody can lose to anyone on any given week, especially in the first week against the defending Super Bowl champions. With that being said, the offense looked absolutely anemic last night in the red zone. This is the same song and dance the Falcons played last year, and let’s just say, we know how it ends.
I was never on board with the Steve Sarkisian hire, and everybody can recognize last year was a mess offensively. You cannot pull the plug after one week of the season, but the offense looked poor enough to make you hope there is a backup plan in case this continues. Matt Ryan clearly looks uncomfortable, as he was a pathetic 1-9 for 3 yards in the red zone yesterday. It is hard to believe that guy was ever the NFL MVP. The best tweet of the day came from @Zaylee5:
“Wrinkles in the Red Zone” they said
— Isaiah (@Zaylee5) September 7, 2018
There was no creativity when the Falcons entered the red zone. Philadelphia made it there three times and left with eighteen points, scoring two touchdowns. The Falcons made it there five times, only scoring twelve points. It is easy to see why too. Doug Pederson incorporates all kind of misdirection and flare once he gets around the goal line. Sarkisian has yet to catch on to that concept. Atlanta had twelve possessions the game. They averaged a measly one point per possession for God’s sake! This is an offense with a former MVP at quarterback, a pro-bowl running back, the best wide receiving core in the NFL, and an offensive line that has more money invested in it than any other in the league.
Like I said, you cannot fire a coach after one game. There has to be a lot of credit given to an Eagles defense that played incredibly. Their front seven is the best in football and the depth is unparalleled. Athlete after athlete just keeps rotating in, and when you cannot keep their defense on the field, it is a recipe for disaster. On the road, it was a tough test for any offensive coordinator, but you have to think there are a lot of offensive minds without a job watching the Falcons play and thinking, “Damn, If only I had that talent when I was coaching.”