We’re officially through the first game of the season for the Falcons and it was ... interesting. Many fans are freaking out about the nature of the win - a struggling offense, a defense that was gashed by the run among other concerns - but week 1 abnormalities happen every single year. That said, here are some takeaways from the win against the Bears.
Don’t sweat the offensive struggle
This will get a ton of attention in the press due to the “Will the Falcons miss Kyle Shanahan” stories from the off-season, but the offensive struggles shouldn’t concern you too much. In reality, there were several things that didn’t go well with the offense - almost all of which are correctable.
Wes Schweitzer struggled in his first start going against a very good defensive line. It’s not the end of the world, but it is something to keep an eye on. For now, we’ll chalk it up to first game jitters and going against a very good DL.
The play-calling seemed off at times, often looking predictable or “uninspired” as some put it. The running game struggled, and the offense stopped looking for Julio for a large stretch of the game - almost the opposite of the 2015 cries of “throw it to someone other than Julio.” The reality is that Steve Sarkisian is still learning what this offense does best and how to use all of his weapons. There were always going to be bumps in the road - and the penalties certainly didn’t help - so there’s no reason to freak out just yet.
Defense comes through at key moments
The Bears offense is not a good one, though they do have a solid interior offensive line and a very good running game. Their running game was very good all day, though the Falcons didn’t help themselves with missed tackles and the occasional over pursuit.
However, the Falcons defense did finish with 4 sacks on the day, and in several instances, they were perfectly timed. The Brooks Reed sack to close out the game immediately comes to mind along with the Beasley sack on third down to kill the Bears offensive drive. This is something we didn’t see as much last year, and already we saw it twice in one game.
While it may have been the Bears, the Falcons D did end up holding a team - on the road - to just 17 points. It may have been painful at times, but it is something that can be built on.
Issues are fixable
Of all the we saw in the game, there didn’t appear to be any that can’t be addressed. Desmond Trufant was clearly working out the rust of not having played since mid last year. The offensive play calling should get better with experience. The missed tackles will undoubtedly be addressed in practice.
The talent - an issue much harder to fix in-season - does not appear to be an issue. The speed of this defense - against, impossible to address - does not appear to be an issue. The struggles we saw in this game were all correctable, and I suspect we’ll see much of it get ironed out over the next few weeks. This is a talented team, and I feel confident these anomalies will be just that.
What are your takeaways from the game?