Well, the sun came up on Monday, but does anybody really feel better about the season-opening loss to Tampa Bay? Heck no!
Not only did Jameis Winston put together his best Drew Brees impression, but Charles Sims occupied the role that once belonged to Pierre Thomas – shedder of tackles and murderer of dreams.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that it’s only Week 1. *Avoids rotten food being thrown* The schedule does not get any better, and there is a frighteningly real chance that Atlanta could be 0-6, but each game will offer a reason to celebrate and probably a few reasons for worry.
I’m here to highlight one of each and tell you that the sky isn’t actually falling/push everyone out of the way while I run screaming for cover.
So, let’s get to it.
One thing to celebrate: Tevin Coleman
There were a couple of positives, but perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Tevin Coleman. After an offseason of talk about how Coleman would cut into Devonta Freeman’s carries, the second-year back justified that chatter.
While neither he nor Freeman had much success running the ball, a problem I associate more with the offensive line’s inability to open lanes, Coleman was dynamic as a receiver.
One of Freeman’s greatest strengths last season was his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. It’s an aspect of his game that Coleman worked to improve, and it appears that work is paying off. He caught 5 passes for a team-leading 95 yards, including a 47-yard catch and run in the second quarter.
The coaching staff plans on rolling with the hot hand at running back, and Coleman might actually have a higher ceiling than Freeman. Nevertheless, if both players prove themselves to be weapons on the ground and in the passing game, Atlanta will have one of the best duos in the NFL.
One thing to worry about: Red zone problems
Sunday provided plenty of reasons to be worried including, the pass rush (again), tackling, the run game and penalties. The last of those worries actually played a major factor in what should be the main concern: Inability to score touchdowns in the red zone.
Atlanta had four red zone possessions against Tampa Bay and managed to score only one touchdown. Penalties really hurt the Falcons inside of the 20, which is just inexcusable.
At the end of the first quarter, Austin Hooper had a false start at the 1-yard line that pushed the Falcons back five yards. On the team’s next red zone possession, Jake Matthews false started and sent the offense from the 12-yard line back to the 17-yard line.
Scoring touchdowns in the red zone was a major problem for Atlanta last season. The pass rush continues to be an issue and the team’s tackling was atrocious, but if the Falcons can’t cap off drives with a touchdown they won’t be winning many football games this season.