Green Bay came in with a decimated secondary and were so far into their running back depth chart, that none of the Packers fans behind me even knew who was running the ball. Many fans felt the Falcons should win easily, but few wins come easily in the NFL, regardless of what a match-up looks like on paper. You can dismiss this win if you’d like, but it still counts and it keeps Atlanta in the lead in the NFC South. Here are some additional takeaways from the game.
Pass rush continues to improve
Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn combined for 3 sacks against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL right now. Say what you will about those sacks and the inadequacy of the Packers receivers, but this defensive front is beginning to generate pressure now against good offensive lines - and that’s something to take note of.
Does the pass rush disappear for stretches? Yes, it still does. This is not a dominant unit, but it is definitely an improving unit. If the team can add a nice piece or two in 2017, this defensive line has the potential to turn into a good unit. The improvement we’re seeing this year is encouraging, especially for a team that has struggled to get to the QB for so many years.
Offensive line bounced back nicely
After getting man-handled by Seattle, and disrupted regularly by San Diego, the offensive line needed to bounce back - and they did, for the most part. The line was able to generate enough push to make the running game respectable (against a very good Packers front 7) and they gave Matt Ryan enough time in the pocket to do damage in the passing game.
If this offense is going to carry this team (and given the defense, that’s the reality), the offensive line has to play well. They need to build on this game if they hope to beat the Bucs on a short week.
Spreading the ball around
The Falcons offense is at it’s best when it spreads the ball around, and that was the case again on Sunday. Ryan found 8 different receivers against the Packers, with 6 of those players having 2 or more receptions. On a day where Julio was hobbled, the rest of the offense stepped up in a big way. Taylor Gabriel looked good early and the oft maligned Mohamed Sanu stepped up huge on the final drive.
Normally, when Julio Jones is shut down it’s been a sure fire loss for the Falcons. The fact that this team is now able to win without a huge game from him speaks volumes for it’s development.
What your takeaways from Sunday’s game against the Packers?