The Atlanta Falcons had a total team loss against the Washington Commanders. There were some bright spots in this game, but there were a lot more questionable and poor spots in this one. The Falcons have a shot to turn this around next week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they need to come out firing on all cylinders on the road. When this kind of stuff all goes wrong in a home game, that doesn't leave much hope. Ideally, the Falcons can re-capture some of that 2022 mojo from the run blocking and build off of the strides they've made in the passing game this year.
Winner: WR Drake London
Drake London made two fantastic catches in traffic that were big gains and were the epitome of the fight the Falcons were showing versus the Commanders. London finished with nine catches on his 12 targets for 125 yards. Atlanta has needed to get London going this season, and this is the kind of game he was expected to have after having a killer finish to his 2022 season. London starting to get the ball rolling will only help the Falcons long-term throughout the year.
Loser: Falcons 3rd and 4th down offense
After having one of the best games of the year versus the Texans on third and fourth downs a week ago, the Falcons were unable to convert on a reasonable clip in this one. They were set up for a lot of long third and fourth down plays, and were only able to convert 33 percent of those versus Washington. Atlanta needs to clean up the play-calls and execution on those downs moving forward as all three of Desmond Ridder's interceptions were on third down.
Winner: RB Bijan Robinson
In a game where Bijan Robinson and the running game just couldn't get going on the ground, Robinson was still an asser because of his play as a receiver. His 13 runs only gained 37 yards due to poor overall blocking in front of him, but he was able to get five catches on eight targets for 43 yards. The 18 total touches for 80 yards is the kind of game the Falcons will always expect from him on the low end. He's looking like a true rookie of the year candidate.
Loser: Run Blocking
What was the strength for the Falcons in 2022 has been lacking all of 2023. In this one, the lack of run blocking on a two-point conversion was the perfect example of the failure of the line on the day. On an outside zone run to the left, they were unable to hold enough push to convert the one-yard play. That happened on almost every other run throughout the day. If the run blocking was able to create any push, the Falcons likely win this game.
Winner: TEs Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith
The Falcons having Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith has been really helpful for the offense because of their ability to attack the middle of the field and underneath routes. Pitts is still recovering from a knee injury, but he made some big plays in this one while catching his first touchdown of the season. Jonnu has allowed Pitts to be used more in the slot and outside by playing the in-line role. Smith also caught his first touchdown of the year in this one.
Loser: Special Teams
The Falcons were unable to create anything with their return game on special teams. They also allowed a punt return down to the 11 that eventually led to a touchdown. Atlanta needs to clean up its special teams play moving forward. This has been an issue all year and replacing a punt returner with a competent one would drastically help the offense. They also need to make sure they are playing their best gunners on punt coverage. Micah Abernathy was active and wasn't playing as well as Hellams has throughout the year in the same role.
Winner: Defense as a whole
Even though the team allowed 24 points, the defense did a lot of that because of bad field position. They allowed a touchdown from 27 yards out, 11 yards out and 52 yards out. Every other drive combined, they only allowed 3 points. The big key there was their play on third and fourth downs. They only allowed three conversions on the 11 attempts on those downs. They also only allowed 193 yards on 12 drives throughout the game.
Loser: QB Desmond Ridder
Desmond Ridder had an up and down game. Starting with the good, he was able to throw two touchdowns and for over 300 yards. However, he had to throw the ball 47 times and threw three interceptions on third downs. The Falcons are expecting better play from Ridder, and this was an objectively bad result for him despite being part of the only reason they were able to move the ball today. The three interceptions were cases of either a bad decision, a bad throw, or both.
Winner: Pass Rush as a whole
The Falcons pass rush has been much maligned. They only had 22 quarterback hits and five sacks throughout the entire season so far. It's been to the point where they needed a "get-right" kind of day where they could figure out what works and what doesn't. This was that day for them. They had 10 quarterback hits and had a combined five sacks between Arnold Ebiketie, Bud Dupree, Grady Jarrett and Calais Campbell. Also, quick shout out to Campbell for hitting the Dirty Bird after he registered his 100th career sack.
Ultimate Loser: HC Arthur Smith
Whenever a team loses in a game like this one, it's because the head coach had them unprepared for the kind of game they were supposed to be playing this week. The Falcons did a lot of things that really helped them win games like get time of possession and limit penalties. However, his confusing two-point conversion call, poor play-calling in the red zone and overall questionable personnel usage in key spots caused a lot of issues throughout the game. He needs to get the plays in faster as well so that the delay of game potentials that kept happening late in the game don't continue to happen moving forward. On both of Ridder's late interceptions, he was late getting the call in and was rushing at the line. That can't happen moving forward, or this team won't win many more games.
All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of DraftScout.com and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.