If you’ve come here today looking for encouragement and a bunch of hidden positives, we are fresh out. In many of the Falcons losses this year, they at least looked competitive. The game against the Eagles was sloppy, undisciplined and the worst looking loss since week one. Granted, there were a few small positives - such as some of our young defensive talent (Beasley, Collins, Campbell) - but this game was dominated by poor play all around. It’s not the end of the world, but it certainly wasn’t an encouraging performance either.
Dominated in the trenches
Whether you’re talking about the offensive line or the defensive line, both units for the Falcons were dominated for most of the day. The Falcons offensive line faced two top-notch defenders in Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham and couldn’t find a consistent answer for them. While the team only gave up 2 sacks, the pocket was collapsing on Matt Ryan for most of the afternoon. Chris Chester and Ryan Schraeder both had poor games overall as the Falcons high flying offense was mostly grounded.
Remember Ryan Matthews? Yeah, I didn’t either until he busted out on the Falcons previously ranked 8th run defense. He rushed 19 times for a whopping 109 yards (5.7 avg) and 2TDs. The Eagles had no problems running the ball all day and Wentz was able to complete 25 of 36 passes in a relatively clean pocket. For a defensive line that had been looking better in recent weeks, it was a big step backwards.
Too many awful mistakes
This Falcons offense is driven off of the ability to run or pass out of any set. It’s part of what makes it hard to defend. That diversity goes away, though, when you end up in first and 15 or 2nd and long - which the Falcons did repeatedly on Sunday. This offense puts itself in a bind when forced into passing situations, as the OL is not built for sustained pass blocking. Yet, because of multiple false-starts by our OL, we repeatedly found ourselves in that exact situation and the results were predictable.
Additionally, the team had 5 drops on the day with superstar receiver Julio Jones contributing two of those (one of which was mind-boggling in nature). Matt Ryan was also not without blame, missing several deep shots when he overthrew his guys and throwing a couple of passes that should have been interceptions. A big gain to Devonta Freeman was offset by a stupid offensive pass interference by rookie tight end Joshua Perkins.
There were simply too many mistakes on Sunday for the Falcons to expect to win. If they’re going to bounce back in a few weeks, they absolutely must clean up these mistakes.
Playoff standing unchanged
If there’s one positive to be taken away, it’s that the NFC South standings are unchanged. The Saints lost in an mind-boggling way and the Panthers lost at home to Kansas City. The Bucs did manage to beat a dreadful Chicago team. As it stands right now, the Falcons are still on top of the division with key games against the Saints (at home) and Panthers (on the road) remaining. While the loss is not ideal, the end result for the playoff race is mostly unchanged.
What are your takeaways from Sunday’s game?