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Falcons lessons learned for Week 5: A tinge of anxiety mixed with celebration

The Falcoholic's staff weigh in on key takeaways from the Week 5 win over Washington.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Rutherford

Devonta Freeman is the real deal.

When we drafted Freeman, I'll admit I had no idea who he was. After watching some tape, I thought hey, this kid could be something worth a darn. Never did I think he would burst onto the scene with not one, not two, but three straight games where he was arguably the best player on the field. The Falcons have not had a running back capable of THIS since Warrick Dunn, and it already appears that Devonta Freeman is capable of taking what Warrick Dunn gave us to a completely different level. His vision is superb, his athleticism is great, and his hands are sure. The Falcons would be crazy to hold Freeman back now, even with Tevin Coleman's return to the field.

The DW

Our defense is halfway there.

When Dan Quinn was brought in, I don't think anyone expected the defense to be top-5 overnight. Most of us wanted to see improvement more than anything else. Based on the last 2 and ½ games, that appears to have happened. The Falcons defense all but shutdown the top ranked Washington running game and forced the team to rely on the arm of Kirk Cousins. While the offense struggled to find a rhythm, the defense was solid for most of the day. If the team can now begin to muster a decent pass rush, we could be looking at a revitalized D in Atlanta in the very near future.

Matthew Chambers

The Atlanta Falcons are still a work in progress.

This team is shockingly unbeaten after five weeks, and even more shockingly, still has plenty of room to improve. While the offensive line and run game has been dominant, the pass game and defense have been streaky. Both have flashed, but have had games where they struggle to put it all together. The coaching staff will need to polish up these parts of the team if they are going to create a dominant team.

Kendall Jackson

Matt Ryan doesn't need to be perfect.

Ryan struggled mightily against Washington, but Atlanta still won thanks to a strong running game and an opportunistic defense. It's a far cry from the previous two seasons in which Ryan had to be absolutely perfect in order for the Falcons to have a chance. Of course, Ryan will certainly get better and the defense still has room for improvement, but as it stands, this team is finding ways to win games while not being perfect.

Allen Strk

Nate Stupar is more than just a lovable special teams contributor.

The well-traveled linebacker played a season-high 28 snaps. His impact was felt immediately when he drew a holding penalty against Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. Stupar continues to defy the odds and make impact plays that tend to go unnoticed. He made a key third-down tackle on Chris Thompson to force a fourth down as well. His snaps continue to increase following an impressive performance against the Giants. Nobody was quite sure about his place on the roster following Allen Bradford's emergence in pre season, but that has certainly changed as he surpasses Joplo Bartu (28 to 20 snaps) in this defense. His pressure on Kirk Cousins played a pivotal role in Robert Alford's game-winning touchdown. "Stuplyfe" has developed into one of the more versatile players on the roster.

Dave Choate

The Falcons still have some issues to sort through.

I should be jubilant that the Falcons are 5-0, and I am. I also have to point out that this team continues to miss way too many tackles, the passing game had a nightmare week against a pretty lackluster secondary, and it took overtime heroics from Robert Alford to actually win. This is clearly a good football team and I have faith they'll be in the playoff picture, but knocking out some of their ongoing struggles will ensure they stick around a lot longer.

Jake Bennett

Even at their worst, this team can find a way to win.

It hasn't always been pretty despite a clean, 5-0 record. The offense put up a horrible performance against Washington, but thankfully we're all aware that these guys are capable of much more. The Falcons will need to get back to fundamental football against a 1-4 Saints team on Thursday Night Football. When it's New Orleans, throw the records out of the window. This will be a battle, and the Falcons must win to maintain momentum in the tight race that is the NFC South.