The Falcons are just under 20% through the 2021 season, but we have an idea of what this team is going to be. In the season opener, Atlanta was blown out by the Eagles, which looks even worse now that Dallas effectively did the same thing to Philadelphia. Then, the Falcons scratched their way back into the Week 2 matchup against the reigning Super Bowl champions, only to be blown out after compounding mistakes. In Week 3, Arthur Smith got his first win as a head coach, but it was far from a perfect game.
The Falcons have relied a ton on their acquisitions this past offseason, particularly the free agents. Atlanta’s salary cap forced Terry Fontenot to hand out team-friendly, one-year contracts to veteran free agents to round out the roster. Those signings have had mixed results through three weeks.
Starting on the defensive side of the ball, the best signing of this group has to be Fabian Moreau, who has quietly had a good start to 2021 in his first season as a full-time starter on the boundary. He’s had some tough penalties go against him, but Moreau has performed perfectly acceptable as a CB2 — one of Fontenot’s best signings this offseason.
Jonathan Bullard has been equally reliable on the defensive front. Although he hasn’t been affecting the game much rushing the passer, he has been fantastic defending the run. Brandon Copeland hasn’t impacted the team much at all, and we all know the unfortunate situation surrounding Keke Mingo — Bullard is the lone good singing here.
Erik Harris and Duron Harmon had two bad weeks against the Eagles and Bucs, mainly playing Cover 2. Dean Pees played more Cover 1 and Cover 3 against the Giants, and the safety duo responded well. Harris has been better defending the run and blitzing while Harmon has been reliable in coverage. I need more data to determine a grade on these signings.
Moving to the other side of the ball, Cordarrelle Patterson may be the gem signing of this class. Many expected his contribution to the offense to be minimal, but the long-time return man has shown the world he can be effective in this role. Mike Davis had a lot of success running against the Eagles’ defense, but those rushing numbers have dipped. Patterson is one of the best receiving backs in the league, and Davis has been great in pass protection — both great signings.
Jaeden Graham and Matt Gono went down with injuries before the season began, but the latter is eligible to be activated off the IR in Week 8. The Falcons’ offensive line has improved each week this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what the staff does with Gono.
Steven Means and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner have just been guys through the first few weeks. Both are backups on 31 other NFL teams, but Means is playing much more than JTM. Means is horrible defending the run, but he’s the best option the Falcons have coming off the edge pressuring the quarterback, which is pathetic.
Blake hasn’t done much outside of special teams, and Hall never made the 53-man roster. Then there is Younghoe Koo, who needs to be given his flowers. He’s been reliable from any distance in any situation since coming to Atlanta to replace legend Matt Bryant. The Falcons have a ton of holes in the roster, but kicker should be locked down for years to come.
Overall, the team seems like it is underperforming, and in many ways, it is. Still, what Fontenot was able to do with minimal cap space is impressive. There are more hits than misses, which is all you can ask. Moreau, Bullard, and Patterson have to make the first-year general manager happy with his decisions.
Final Grade: C+