Many naturally positive fans will have a tough time finding any silver linings in the Falcons brutal home loss to the Eagles. It will be even more difficult for me. I generally operate under the “prove me wrong” frame of mind, but I did see a few things against Philadelphia that fans should hold their heads up about.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson‘s emergence
Patterson not only looked better than the starting running back, but he might’ve been the best player on the field while he was out there. He finished the game with 54 yards on seven carries, averaging almost eight yards per attempt. He looked strong and fluid, providing the perfect complement to Mike Davis. As I stated in an earlier article, Patterson was a lone bright spot:
A couple of weeks ago, I proposed the question,“Can Cordarrelle Patterson withstand a full season as the change-of-pace RB behind Mike Davis?” His current career-best numbers out of the backfield were 64 rushing attempts for 232 yards and a touchdown a season ago. It was fair to question whether the veteran kick returner would hold up over the course of a full season as a running back. I ultimately concluded that Patterson would surely set new career highs in carries and yards this year.
“I would be shocked if Patterson didn’t set new career highs in carries and yards this season — 65 attempts and 233 yards are the markers. Mike Davis will certainly shoulder the load, but I believe Falcons fans will be surprised how often Patterson is featured. The only question is: Will he be able to hold up physically?”
The question still stands, because even though Patterson was the lone bright spot in Sunday’s loss, can he do it for an entire season? That answer won’t be found until the end of the season, but what we can analyze is what he did in limited action against the Eagles. What he did was grade out as the team’s best offensive player.
2. Chris Lindstrom‘s continued success
Lindstrom was the highest-graded offensive lineman from the Falcons in Week 1, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Many of Atlanta’s most successful runs came behind Lindstrom off the right side, but he wasn’t just effective in the run game. The former first-round pick looked stout against Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave. He’s one of the team’s best players, and as Jake Matthews stated after a practice last week — he’s becoming a leader for other guys. Lindstrom will be a pillar of this offensive line for years to come, and at this point in his career, the young man is still ascending.
3. Offense’s ability to run the ball
The first drive went well for the Falcons offense. Starting off, Mike Davis carried the ball five times for 20 total yards while Cordarrelle Patterson only had one attempt for three yards — a respectable 3.8 yards per carry combined. Then, on the second offensive drive, Patterson totaled 38 yards on four carries while Davis got four carries for 19 yards — a more impressive 7.1 yards per carry combined.
Obviously, the game plan faltered after the first couple of drives stalled in the red zone, but the offensive line’s ability to generate enough push for the duo to record 80 rush yards on the first two drives is encouraging. If the offensive line can consistently reset the line of scrimmage, defenses will become less dangerous when rushing the passer as they have to respect the run.