Atlanta Falcons Can Sure Fly, But Can They Run Against Packers?

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22: Matt Ryan /

Hopefully the Green Bay Packers are as unfamiliar to Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the Atlanta Falcons are acquainted with it.

In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, and in the league with seemingly (h)armless quarterbacks Matt Ryan is, if not king, at the very least a FedEx Air Player of the Week nominee. Fans can vote on and the winner receives a donation of $2,000 made in the name to the USO through FedEx Cares. What, is The Human Fund (“Money For People”) not available? Matty Ice led the Falcons, with 321 yards and a game-deciding 88-yard touchdown pass to Austin Hooper, to a 23-17 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

In addition to that, Ryan was not picked and was in fact the league’s third-most efficient passer while under duress in Week 1 per Pro Football Focus. If the Falcons seemed to struggle – well, actually they didn’t “seem” to, they really did – against the Bad News Bears it was not because of Matt Ryan and the passing game, but because of the running game, or lack thereof.

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Atlanta averaged 2.8 yards per attempt, which is not what one would expect from the likes of Tevin Coleman or Devonta Freeman at running back. Then again, maybe it was not entirely their fault. Digital Managing Editor Matthew Tabeek said he

"“noticed that a lot of players were slipping on the surface at Soldier Field” but added that “the Falcons are familiar with their home surface and are used to playing on it.”"

Hopefully the Green Bay Packers are as unfamiliar to Mercedes-Benz Stadium as the Falcons are acquainted with it. The Green and Gold defense owned perennial NFC West favorites the Seattle Seahawks, limiting them to a measly 93 yards on the ground and sacking Russell Wilson three times.

Make no mistake; this is a completely different defense from that which got blown out of the water by the Falcons in the 2016 NFC Championship Game – though they might play as if it were. According to Fox Sports, the Packers:

"“wore down the Seahawks in a style befitting grind-it-out, postseason football.”"

While head coach Dan Quinn was understandably not happy with the running attack on Sunday, he was pragmatic about it.

"“There was times where could we have stuck our foot in the ground and go as a back? Yes,” he said following the game per Kelsey Conway of the teams website. “There were other times where there wasn’t much space for them. [It all comes down to] really being an extension of each other in the run game, especially in the zone game where we want to press the line of scrimmage and then get north and south. We’re right back to it, we know it’s going to be an important part of what we do.”"

Next: Jason Whitlock calls out Sarkisian

The Falcons offensive revolves around the balance between the air and ground attacks, and new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was committed equally to both the passing and the running against the Bears. So Sark’s feet could be said to be taped to the bicycle on this one; it remains to be seen whether he pedaling away on a stationary bike as far as the run is concerned.