I had to take a little time to cool off after this one before I put pen to paper. The highly anticipated Falcons season-opener turned out to be a resounding dud all the way around. It didn’t matter that Atlanta was finally at full-strength for the first time since week one of last year. It didn’t matter that Dan Quinn took over as the defensive coordinator or the offensive line was supposedly “revamped.” From the opening kickoff, the Vikings were the much more prepared team, and they handed the Falcons a wake-up call to begin their 2019 season. There is a lot of work to be done, but it’s week one. Atlanta wouldn’t be the first team to lay an egg at the beginning of the year and come back to win the division. However, all the concerns you might have had coming into the season were confirmed and need to be fixed – fast.
Chris Lindstrom breaks his foot
I’ll start with the worst news. The injury plague is back for the Falcons, and it begins at a position where they cannot afford to lose their best players. First-round pick Chris Lindstrom is believed to have fractured his foot. The Falcons will run some tests today to confirm it, but it does not look promising. Last year, Deion Jones fractured his foot and did not return until week ten. I’d expect Lindstrom will have to hit the IR, which is a gut-punch to a unit that looked absolutely awful on Sunday. Wes Schweitzer filled in as a reserve and has some starting experience. He could be who the Falcons turn to going forward, or they might go with Jamon Brown, who was competing with James Carpenter for the starting left guard spot all offseason.
The offensive line was atrocious
Matt Ryan was sacked four times but was pressured on about half of his dropbacks. The newly revamped offensive line had a difficult test in week one against a daunting Minnesota defensive line, and they failed miserably. Now, with Chris Lindstrom likely to miss at least two months, this looks like it will be an ongoing problem just like it was last year. Thomas Dimitroff’s number one priority was to find Matt Ryan protection this offseason. He spent the Falcons first three draft picks on it as well as the bulk of their free agency dollars, and the line looked even worse than it did a year ago. That is how to get yourself fired.
So much for fast and physical
Ever since Dan Quinn has arrived as the head coach of the Falcons, he’s preached about his team being fast and physical, especially defensively. Well, this was about the least physical performance I’ve seen out of an NFL team. Even Keanu Neal, the Falcons most physical player, was out there missing tackles. The defensive line that looked better on paper coming into the season was blown off the ball consistently, as the Falcons let the Vikings rack up 172 rushing yards on 38 carries. Kirk Cousins only threw the ball ten times for 98 yards, and Atlanta was run out of the building. It was an absolute embarrassment.
Grady Jarrett is a freak
I told you there was a little bit of good, and I just got finished ragging on the defensive line, so I have to give credit to the one player that showed up for the Falcons yesterday – Grady Jarrett. He was the only guy consistently causing problems for the Vikings as he recorded a sack and two tackles for loss. Jarrett was as disruptive as ever, and I have a feeling his contract is going to become a bargain as he continues to improve.
Where is Matty Ice?
You will not meet a person that has Matt Ryan’s back as much as I do. I believe he has firmly entrenched himself as one of the five best quarterbacks in football and think you are crazy if you don’t agree. With that said, he looked miserable against the Vikings. It doesn’t help that he was always under duress, but the two picks he threw were inexcusable. He said so himself, and I fully expect him to bounce back from this next week against the Eagles.
Vic Beasley is not worth $12.8 million
This is another one of those moves that will get your GM and coach fired. There was no legitimate case to be made for the Falcons to extend the fifth-year option to Beasley, who has been mostly useless since being drafted 8th overall in 2015. Still, they did it anyways, and watching him play makes me want to pull my eyeballs out. He can’t tackle – even quarterbacks – he rarely creates pressure and has no hand-eye coordination. I’m tired of beating around the bush with this decision; I’ve done it enough. It was ridiculous for them to bring him back at that number, but they dug their own grave. Now, they have to lie in it.
Isaiah Oliver did not inspire confidence
One of the things I was excited about coming into this year is the play of Isaiah Oliver. He has a lot of potential, but that is all it is right now. He was beaten consistently on the few pass plays the Vikings did run and was a noticeable liability in the run game. It turns out the Falcons might regret letting go of Robert Alford after all.