This was a perfect setup game for the Falcons. The Saints came in with quite a few injured starters, ESPN reminded us continually that this was the 10th anniversary of the Katrina game (at least 13,000 mentions by my count), and the team was coming off a big road win against the Oakland Raiders. Thankfully, the team pushed through and registered a huge road win against our most hated rival, even if they made it difficult getting there. That said, these are some of the key takeaways from the game.
Offense is truly multi-faceted now
If I had told you before the game that Julio Jones would have only one catch, and that Mohamed Sanu would go out early in the second quarter, you probably would have predicted a loss for the Falcons. Amazingly, those two things did happen and the team still managed to put up 38 offensive points on the road.
Granted, the Saints defense may be the absolute worst in the league and could be a historically bad defense. Regardless, the Falcons found a way to take advantage of it without a significant contribution from it’s two top wide receivers.
Last week, the offense killed the Raiders by spreading the ball to multiple receiving targets, with Matt Ryan compiling nearly 400 yards passing. Against the Saints, the two-headed monster of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman destroyed the putrid New Orleans defense to the tune of almost 300 total yards between them.
Last year, the offense couldn’t move if it weren’t for Julio. This year, it’s moving whether he’s contributing or not. It’s an amazing sight to behold, and defenses are going to lose a lot of sleep figuring out how to stop it.
Tight Ends are still killing us
On the flip side of the ball, the Falcons still cannot stop tight ends. The Saints trotted out Coby “Massive Disappointment” Fleener and he proceeded to look like an All-Pro against the middle of our D. I’m convinced they could have played a one-legged, blind man at tight-end and we still would have been roasted by him. It’s a problem that predated Quinn’s arrival in Atlanta, but as of yet, it still has not been fixed.
Granted, De’Vondre Campbell was supposed to help in this regard, and he missed the game due to injury. That said, the Panthers are coming into the Dome with a much better tight end in Greg Olsen. If the team can’t figure out how to defend the tight end by then, Olsen may break all sorts of records against the middle of this D.
Between the complete lack of a pass rush and the team being incapable of stopping tight-ends, I may lose my mind watching this defense. Dan Quinn was brought in to make this defense better. So far, the results are depressing.
Two straight road wins can’t be overlooked
Regardless of what it took to make it happen, the Falcons have now managed to win two straight road games. No matter who the opponents are or how good/bad their defense, winning on the road in the NFL is always going to be difficult. Doing it in back-to-back weeks is doubly-hard, especially when you consider that one of those trips was coast-to-coast. It’s still early in the season, but if the Falcons are going to have success in 2016, winning on the road like this will go a long way.
What are your takeaways from the win against the Saints?