Atlanta Falcons First Takes: Observations from Week Two
On this Throwback Thursday, we “throw it back” to last Sunday’s Atlanta Falcons vs. Packers game to see what we learned.
Oh what a difference a week makes. Last week, the Atlanta Falcons had a lukewarm season opening win over the Chicago Bears.
In the process, doubts surfaced regarding Atlanta’s conservative play calling as well as a potential weak link at right guard.
Against a flawed team such as the Bears, the Falcons were able to overcome those deficiencies. However, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers coming to town, Atlanta required a near flawless performance to leave victorious.
And boy did they deliver. The Falcons blitzed the Packers from the get-go in route to a 34-23 win in the inaugural game in their brand new $1.5 billion home.
If one didn’t know any better, they would have thought they were watching a carbon copy of the 2016 NFC Championship game. Even though that’s not the case, the Falcons taught us some valuable lessons that indicate they can repeat their 2016 success.
No Shanahan, No Problem
Everyone contributed in the Falcons’ 34-point effort versus the Packers. Yet if there’s one person who deserves the majority of the credit, it’s offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
The rookie signal caller orchestrated a masterful game plan reminiscent of the ones his predecessor called regularly in 2016. Sark mixed and matched his personnel groupings to perfection, keeping the Packers’ defense on its heels all game.
It also helped that the run game got on track, which allowed the offense to stay balanced and unpredictable. Through the first two games of the season, the Falcons own a 50 to 58 run to pass ratio.
As long as the blocking is satisfactory, which it was on Sunday, the commitment to the run game will open up opportunities in the play-action passing game.
We saw a glimpse of that in the Packers game; hopefully it was just the tip of the Matty Ice-berg.
All About The Ball
Dan Quinn has made this message clear from the moment he became the Atlanta Falcons’ head coach. Last year, Atlanta delivered on his word, ranking fourth in the league with a +11 turnover margin.
After a slow start in week one, the Falcons returned to form in week two going +2 in the turnover department. That proved to be the difference in Sunday’s heavyweight clash as Atlanta parlayed both takeaways into touchdowns.
The man at the center of it all was cornerback Desmond Trufant, who had an interception and fumble recovery for a TD in the game. He also balled out in coverage, surrendering a pedestrian 31.3 QB rating against in Sunday’s win.
With the added dimension of Trufant and the defense returning to its ball-hawking nature, the Falcons are ready for take off.
While the Falcons have the benefit of a now healthy Trufant, the same cannot be said for other key contributors on the team. Atlanta may have won the NFC Championship rematch, but not without paying the price for it.
Starters Vic Beasley (hamstring), tackle Ryan Schraeder (concussion), and defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (ankle) suffered injuries in the game. Beasley and Upshaw have already been ruled out for Sunday’s game in Detroit, with Schraeder likely to follow suit.
The Falcons have been rumored to be interested in a Dwight Freeney reunion since the summer, but they may be better off passing at this point. After all, Atlanta is deeper than they were a year ago and better suited to withstand injuries.
By giving the backups more meaningful reps, the defending NFC Champions will only grow stronger in the long run. For a team that’s already the class of the conference, that’s a scary proposition for those standing in Atlanta’s way.
Next: Atlanta Falcons: 3 Players with rising stock after Week 2
While there was a lot to like in week two, remember this. The Super Bowl is not won after two games, just like it’s not lost after one.
However, the Falcons showcased a formula on Sunday Night Football that can vanquish any challenger. The revenge tour starts now.