Stay Committed To Running The Football
The Panthers were able to beat the Dallas Cowboys on Opening Weekend, giving them a slight edge over the Falcons in the NFC South standings. Not only did Carolina hold Dallas to 8 points, but they shut down Cowboys running back, Ezekiel Elliott, as well. While holding the former Ohio State superstar to only 69 yards on the ground is definitely impressive, the Cowboys clearly gave up on the running the football too early, as Elliott only ran the football a total of 15 times.
Needless to say, no one should be surprised Dallas gave up six sacks on Sunday afternoon to the Falcons division-rivals.
Heading into Week 2, Atlanta has to take a hard look in the mirror and decide whether or not they’re going to learn from Dallas’ mistakes. We know that Carolina will test the Falcons offensive-line for sixty-minutes; therefore, Steve Sarkisian has to stay committed to keeping the football on the ground, even if they’re finding little success from the get-go.
Not only will that help steady the Panthers impressive pass-rush, but it’ll give Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman an opportunity to make an impact play in a crucial NFC South match-up.
Don’t Let Newton Beat You With His Feet
Since Dan Quinn’s arrival in 2015, the Falcons defense has actually done a pretty darn good job of not letting Cam Newton run wild; however, this battle will be a little different, as the Dirty Birds’ talented defense will have to face Carolina without their hard-hitting strong safety, Keanu Neal. It was apparent Atlanta missed Neal’s presence in the second-half against Philadelphia last Thursday night, which should give us all some concern heading into Week 2.
That said, Atlanta must stay patient on Sunday afternoon and not overcommit when Newton and Christian McCaffrey run their version of the read-option. Again, Quinn’s defenses in Atlanta have done a good job of this in the past, but we need to see it once again this weekend.
It stinks to start the season 0-1, but the seat starts to get a lot hotter when you start the year 0-2. If the Falcons can contain Newton in the pocket, they’ll put their offense in another great position to win.
Touchdowns, Touchdowns, Touchdowns
Speaking of the Falcons offense, the Dirty Birds have to actually execute on Sunday afternoon if they want to win their first game of 2018. If they dilly-dally around in the red-zone again this weekend, the Panthers will gladly take a 2-0 record back to Charlotte. This Atlanta offense has too many great players and too much experience to keep putting up goose-eggs inside the twenty-yard-line.
At this point, there’s nothing more that can be said about the Falcons offense. They can either figure it out and be one of the NFL’s best teams, or mess around and miss the NFC Playoffs.