5 Initial Thoughts: Falcons versus Bills

5. Matt Ryan has to be better

After shocking the world on the way to the 2016 NFL MVP, Matt Ryan has not had the start he envisioned coming into the season. Through four games, Ryan has just five touchdowns to match his five interceptions (good for third in the league), although he has thrown for the sixth most yards thus far. Turnovers have been a huge problem for Ryan in year’s past, and they cost the Falcons big time in this one. The loss of Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu did not do him any favors, but an MVP caliber quarterback is expected to find a way to win that game at home.

4. This bye week is sorely needed

One of the biggest fears for every NFL team coming into a season is catching the injury bug. It happens way too often in this league and usually alters how seasons play out each and every year. The Falcons might have the most talented team on paper, but a slew of injuries is bound to slow this team down if it continues. Added to the already long list of inactives, where the aforementioned Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu. Jones’s injury seems to be more of a precaution, but Sanu’s hamstring issue could force him to miss some time. This bye week could not have come at a better time, as the Falcons need to shift their focus to getting healthy over the next two weeks.

3. Is it time to worry? 

Sure, this is the Falcons first loss of the season, but it could very easily be their third, and any realist recognizes this is not the same dominant team we witnessed during their outstanding playoff run. However, much of this can be attributed to rust more than anything, as the Falcons are still competing and winning games while getting crushed in the turnover margin. This should not continue, as I expect Ryan and this offense to continue to improve under Steve Sarkisian as the season goes. The impressive part of Atlanta’s season so far has been the improved defense. Even missing key pieces, this defense has remained stout all season long and still features tons of room for progression. As long as this team can be healthy come season’s end, they should be a part of the class of the NFC.

2. This was Sarkisian’s first “bad” performance

There was not much of a drop-off between the 2016 Falcons offense and the first three weeks of the 2017 season. Atlanta came into last Sunday averaging 29 points per game, just 4.8 points shy of their franchise-best 33.8 points per game they averaged a season ago. With that being said, Sunday’s game was an absolute mess for the offense. They started off slow with Jones and Sanu on the field and were atrocious once they both exited the game. This was an opportunity for Sarkisian to really shine as a coordinator, but it turned out being a game he is going to want to forget going forward, capped off by poorly executed final series. Atlanta had two opportunities to get a yard to put them at first and goal with an opportunity to win. The result was two completions that were not even close. Certainly odd decision making when the two best receivers on the team are in street clothes.

1.  Who doesn’t love them some thunder and lightning?

While most of Sunday consisted of players on Atlanta who did not show up, the Falcons backfield sure did. They totaled 137 yards rushing and 85 yards receiving to anchor the offensive attack for the entire afternoon. With Matt Ryan currently struggling, look for the Falcons to get back to what they do best after the bye week: run the football. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are the best running back duo in the NFL, and they are going to be what gets this offense back to full throttle.

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