For the Atlanta Falcons, it seems to be same-story-different-chapter from 2020 (and previous years). The defense, while showing a few flashes, has been largely ineffective against a Cleveland Browns machine operated by one Baker Mayfield.
The Falcons looked perplexed against a Browns offense that didn’t even include leading rusher Nick Chubb or Odell Beckham Jr.
That didn’t seem to faze Mayfield, who managed to find KhaDarel Hodge, former Falcon Austin Hooper, D’Ernest Johnson, and Donovan Peoples-Jones in the Browns first two drives, leading to a 7-0 Cleveland lead.
Mayfield was feasting on not only busted coverages by the Falcons but also his receivers knowing exactly where to be when the ball arrived (take notes, Falcons wideouts, please).
This pass to Hodge is a perfect example. The defense went one way, Mayfield bootlegged the other, and the Browns celebrated the first score of the game.
Atlanta Falcons defense takes one step up, two steps back
So, it seems as though the more things change, the more they stay the same in Atlanta.
The defense has repeated the oft-seen mistakes of arm-tackling, being out of position in the secondary, and finding new ways to make the opposing offense look good.
Mayfield ended the night against the Atlanta defense going 6 of 10 for 113 yards, one touchdown, and a passer rating of 132.5.
Prior to the game, NBC announcer Cris Collinsworth urged patience for Atlanta fans given all the new faces this year. If patience is a virtue, then Falcons fans are the most virtuous group of people in all the NFL.