I’ve given the spiel a few times about how miserable week one was all around. The energy was not there. The physicality was pathetic. The new coordinators looked lost. Dan Quinn’s fancy defensive scheme backfired. Pretty much everything that was done to try and improve this team failed, leading to an uncompetitive game on the road with the Minnesota Vikings. That’s the last I’ll say of the bad. This article is about the few positives that came from week one – which were not many – before the Falcons head into a week two matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football, who remain a popular Super Bowl pick following a comeback win over the Redskins.
The interior defensive line
Before the season, I talked about how I thought the defensive line would be much improved because of some of the additions that were made. Those acquisitions were the few players that showed up on Sunday. Tyler Davison was a handful inside, grading out as a 77.0, according to Pro Football Focus, and leading the team in tackles with eight. Allen Bailey also proved to be a nice addition on the inside, and of course, Grady Jarrett was the best player on the field. The trio did not allow the Vikings to run between the tackles. Unfortunately, the guys on the outside – Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley – could not hold the edge for the life of them, leading to a field day for the Vikings rushing attack.
James Carpenter played well in pass protection
There were two positions on the line up in the air coming into the season – left guard and right tackle. The Falcons never established a running game – partly because they fell behind so early – but James Carpenter was perfect in pass protection, winning all 37 of his pass-blocks. The problem was his teammates did not help him out much, and now, Chris Lindstrom is heading to the IR with a fractured foot. The Falcons desperately need Carpenter to continue playing like this going forward.
It was the stars who sucked
This isn’t much of a positive, but it could mean better things are to come. When looking at the game last week, it was Jake Mathews and Matt Ryan making the worst plays – two Pro-Bowlers – who the Falcons have come to expect much more from. Devonta Freeman, Keanu Neal, and Deion Jones didn’t live up to expectations either. Week one sucked, but all of these guys should be much better going forward.
It is only week one
This is the primary thing I tell myself to keep sane after what happened this past Sunday, “It is only week one.” For most NFL teams, the most substantial leap in play you will see is from week one to week two. We saw the Browns, who were a trendy pick to win their division, lose by 30 at home to the Titans. Are they that bad? Probably not. The same can be said for the Falcons, although, week two is going to be very telling. They play an extremely talented Eagles team that has outcoached Dan Quinn in their previous two matchups and probably has a better roster on paper, which few teams can say. It doesn’t get any bigger than this on Sunday Night Football with the whole world watching. I’m not saying the Falcons have to win for me to be satisfied, but they better look a hell of a lot more crisp than they did last Sunday, or heads will start to roll.