The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Chicago Bears in exciting fashion Sunday afternoon on a sunny day in Chicago. Brooks Reed capped off an up and down game, sacking Mike Glennon to effectively end the game and seal the Falcons win. Looking forward there’s still a lot of work to be done. As quarterback Matt Ryan so eloquently put it in his post-game press conference, “I’m happy we were able to get it done, but we have a long road ahead.”
So what should the Falcons and their fan base take away from today’s game? Three things stand out:
1. The Falcons defense is much improved, but still a work in progress
De’Vondre Campbell played an excellent game, and head coach Dan Quinn made to sure to single him out and give him credit during his post-game presser. Vic Beasley got his first sack and Brooks Reed had two sacks, one that ended a fourth quarter comeback attempt by the Bears. Keanu Neal did his thing, destroying offensive ball carriers because that’s his job. All that said, the formidable Bears rushing attack looked unstoppable at times today. The defense looked basically helpless during the final drive of the first half. More to the point, the run defense was pretty suspect as a whole in the first half, allowing 99 rushing yards.
2. The Falcons have to clean up their special teams play
This was an issue during the preseason and the issue persisted today. The Falcons simply couldn’t stop getting flagged on special teams. On the very first play of the game, a Kemal Ishmael block in the back brought back a 50+ yard return. Later CJ Goodwin drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for staying out of bounds too long after a punt. Finally Robert Alford was flagged for holding during a fourth quarter punt return. This is a trend special teams coach Keith Armstrong can’t be happy about and it’s something the Falcons have to address quickly.
3. Wes Schweitzer continues to navigate a steep learning curve
The training camp battle at right guard is something we all watched closely during training camp and the preseason. It came down to the very end of the preseason, with second year man Wes Schweitzer just barely coming out on top. But despite the fact that he won the job outright, Schweitzer struggled mightily today. He looked overwhelmed at times and the offensive line as a whole struggled to create running lanes for Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. It’s not easy to step into a starting gig during your second year, and Schweitzer will need to figure out his game quickly to continue to hold off renaissance man Ben Garland.