The matchup between the Falcons and Raiders was comprised of two teams with contrasting circumstances. Atlanta’s season was essentially over. The morale seemed to be at an all-time low coming off a demoralizing divisional loss to a team led by an inexperienced quarterback in Taysom Hill. Meanwhile, Las Vegas was looking ahead in hopes of making the playoffs after a hard-fought divisional matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Falcons are one the most frustrating teams to cover. First, they get embarrassed by a “gadget” quarterback, then they beat the brakes off a seriously competitive team. It only justifies how much better this team really is despite the losing record. The Falcons might not be as good as everyone in Atlanta says, but they certainly are not as bad as the national media portrays them.
The team came out against the Raiders with fire in their eyes after the disheartening effort against the Saints a week before. The defense seemed to do no wrong (aside from an incredible catch by Henry Ruggs on A.J. Terrell) behind outstanding performances from Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Foyesade Oluokun, Mykal Walker, Jacob Tuitoi-Mariner, and A.J. Terrell. The offense scored 18 of the team’s 43 points despite Dirk Koetter‘s loyalty to preparing and calling the most basic concepts in both phases. The other 25 points were scored by Deion Jones’s pick-six and Younghoe Koo’s five field goals and four extra points.
The Raider’s drives ended (chronological order) in a turnover on downs, fumble, punt, field goal, punt, fumble (halftime), punt, a pick-six, field goal, fumble, fumble, punt, and punt. This was utter domination by the defense. The entire unit, including the coaches, should be accredited for this notable performance. They put the offense in great field position all game long due to the six turnovers forced, and Koo was as ice-cold as ever, even with a knee injury suffered during the game.
The Falcons offense stalled on drives the entire first quarter. The team’s first touchdown occurred over halfway through the second quarter. After the three first-half fumbles, the offense only managed nine points, all coming from field goals. Dirk Koetter’s group averaged just over four yards per play and should not inspire any fans with the total points. Without the defenses’ best performance of the year, the Falcons would have likely lost this game. The running game was abysmal with Brian Hill. He only averaged 2.75 yards per carry yesterday — if his 22-yard run with a 37-point lead during garbage time was excluded.
The Falcons offense is this predictable; first and second downs regularly consist of unproductive runs that result in little to no gain. Then on third down and medium or long, Koetter calls long-developing passing concepts that tend to get Matt Ryan sacked or rushing his throws. It has never been more evident than in this game. The offense performed mediocrely, and the team won big from otherworldy performances by the defense and special teams.
Maybe the defense has as many key pieces worth keeping as the offense does. Perhaps the next regime will come in and revamp the offense’s system with less turnover on the defensive side, shooting for the 2021 playoffs. This team is so unpredictable that nobody covering them can give an insightful forecast about what is coming next year. Top to bottom, the Falcons are as inconsistent as any in this league.