In an offensive shootout, the Falcons lost to the Saints 43-37 in overtime. While it’s obviously a disappointing and negative result, some positive performances can still be drawn from it.
Stock Up: Matt Ryan
In a story all too familiar for Matt Ryan, the Falcons lost despite a wonderful performance from him. Ryan completed 75% of his throws for 374 yards and 5 touchdowns (career high) and a rating of 148.1.
Matt Ryan holds the two highest passer ratings ever in a loss. In this game and the Super Bowl, Ryan posted passer ratings higher than 144 but his defense let him down and he lost. Despite the loss, Ryans stock goes up because of this performance. It was great statistically but one of my favorite things I saw from him yesterday was his accuracy on deep balls. A lot was made about his poor deep balls this year but he had some wonderful ones yesterday including a 75 yard TD pass to Calvin Ridley.
Matt Ryan took over the game yesterday and had one of his best games ever. I haven’t seen him play with that much confidence since the Super Bowl but unfortunately, it will mostly go unnoticed. Hopefully, Ryan can keep up his good performances and make up for the poor defensive showings bound to happen.
Stock Up: Calvin Ridley
Rookie Calvin Ridley had a decent first two games but he broke out in his first game against the Aints. His 146 receiving yards is most by a Falcons WR not named Julio Jones since week 7 of 2013. His 3 touchdowns also tied the record for most receiving touchdowns by a Falcons WR since Andre Rison in 1993.
The biggest part of this game was how he got his yards and touchdowns. Watching the game back, all of his catches came from his own ability rather than coverage busts. Even with Julio across from Ridley, he was still double teamed. This will lead to opportunities for Julio and Mohammed Sanu to excel against single teams.
Ridley certainly won’t end every game with 146 yards and 3 touchdowns but you can certainly expect some more big games from him in the future
Stock Down: Pass Rush
It’s no secret that the Atlanta Falcons defense has had devastating injuries but the pass rush has been a problem even without injuries. The Falcons are 29th in QB hits and 28th in sacks this year and if you’ve watched them, it’s obvious how much time opposing quarterbacks have. Only 1 active defensive linemen (excluding Takk McKinley) has a sack (Vic Beasley) and that came in last weeks game.
The problem with the pass rush is that even with a fully healthy defensive line, it’s not great. Part of it stems from a lack of pass rushing talent but also scheme. As we’ve seen in the previous two games, Quinn doesn’t like to blitz a lot. It was also shown last year as the Falcons were 24th in blitz frequency only blitzing 20% of the time. Brian Poole is a co-sack leader but unfortunately, defensive backs blitzes are Quinn’s least favorite blitzes (32nd last year).
While Takk and Derrick Shelby returning will certainly help the pass rush, Quinn and Dimitroff may have to look for some outside help. If Quinn decides to keep the current defensive line, it must take a team effort from Quinn and his defensive lineman (Like not putting Grady Jarrett in coverage…) to be better.
Stock Down: Brian Poole
While Poole has always been a great tackler, something was wrong on Sunday. It could’ve been the risk of getting a penalty from hard-hitting or the elusiveness of the Saints players but Poole (Frankly the entire team) wasn’t the same tackling. I haven’t seen Poole tackle that poorly since he came into the league. His coverage wasn’t great either but that’s no surprise considering that’s been his downfall recently.
In my opinion, especially considering the problem at safety, Poole should move to strong safety. That would make Oliver our 3rd cornerback and would allow Poole to excel.