Falcons Week 1 PFF grades

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The Falcons are gearing up for their Week 2 matchup in Los Angeles to take on the Rams, who are coming off an embarrassing Week 1 throttling courtesy of Josh Allen and the Bills. The Falcons were underdogs in the season opener against the Saints but battled until the final whistle, dominating their division rivals for much of the game before collapsing in the fourth quarter. Let’s take a look at the Falcons’ Week 1 PFF grades, courtesy of Evan Birchfield of The Falcoholic:

The first ranking that sticks out is the pass blocking. Third overall is a stark difference from the Falcons’ bottom-of-the-league protection last season. A combination of improved offensive line play due to changes at guard and center, Marcus Mariota‘s mobility, and Arthur Smith’s scheme resulted in a much more palatable product — one that netted only a single quarterback hit.

The rest of the team’s units were average at best, but that’s still an upgrade from where they were last year. An interesting note I might add is the pass rush rank of 29th. The Falcons seemingly pressured Jameis Winston all afternoon, but the folks at PFF weren’t as impressed. And I believe the reason for that is the Falcons didn’t create pressure traditionally with four down rushers. Dean Pees manufactured simulated blitzes with his exotic looks, which created a ton of problems through the first three quarters.

On to some of the individual grades:

This is nothing new. Chris Lindstrom and Cordarrelle Patterson are two of the team’s leaders and best players; they will continually appear at the top of these lists. Drake London led the Falcons in receiving and had impressive moments, including difficult catches in traffic and extending plays after the catch. You didn’t hear Kaleb McGary‘s much in Sunday’s matchup, but for offensive linemen, that’s a good thing, evident in his PFF grade.

Again, expect to see Grady Jarrett atop these lists week in and week out. Against New Orleans, the veteran defensive tackle looked unstoppable, eclipsing his 2021 sack total in just one game. Jarrett was a menace, and none of the Saints’ interior linemen had an answer for the Pro Bowler. Two names fans may be surprised to see on here are Mike Ford and Dee Alford, who manned the slot while Isaiah Oliver recovers from injury. Richie Grant and Jaylinn Hawkins both looked excellent and played nearly every single snap. It seems the Falcons have a pretty good safety duo roaming the backend.

The second set of notables is a bit jarring. Marcus Mariota had bright moments and some dull ones. He fumbled on the five-yard line in what could’ve been the knockout punch touchdown drive. Falcons fans can expect Mariota to be the exact opposite of Matt Ryan going forward. Given his mobility, his highs will be higher than Ryan’s, but his lows will undoubtedly be lower. Kyle Pitts didn’t have a great game by production standards, but I certainly didn’t think he or Mykal Walker deserved these grades. In contrast, back-breaking receptions in the waning minutes of the game have to be the reason for AJ Terrell and Casey Hayward‘s low grades.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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