Anyone else hear that one horrific thing analyst Charles Davis said in the first half - about how this offense looked more like the Mike Smith era? Specifically the MIKE MULARKEY era? Sweet Jesus.
In keeping with the understanding that we have no understanding of anything at all in Week 1, I’ll skip the crumbling late game pass defense, I’ll skip the poor run blocking and I’ll skip what I really, really want to believe was a tutorial session for the new playcaller. It’s Week 1, we know nothing, except that a layer of weapons exists underneath every Julio bracket coverage to make a defense pay. We know that regardless of how they were embarrassed by their over pursuit and got drove on late, this defense made the play that counted most.
Also I know I am Austin Hooper - when something that good happens to me, I don’t believe it and black out.
That game made us all a little more uncomfortable than we’d like, didn’t it? My biggest takeaway from this is that at the end of the day, a win is a win, and I’ll take that. Sarkisian’s play calling was hot and cold for me. I liked seeing both Freeman and Coleman in the game at the same time. I think there’s something to be had there. The defense, fast as it is, still has the tendency to completely disappear for stretches at a time. Tarik Cohen very nearly beat us by himself, and if it weren’t for some luck, we would have lost the game. The Bears may or may not be a team that’s much improved from last year’s version, but it was not a great look from the defending NFC champs in week 1.
The 2016 season was an historic one for the Atlanta Falcons. They played some truly spectacular football, which is why we expect them to immediately dominate all of their competition in 2017. I’ll be interested to see how the Bears play going forward, because it will put Sunday’s close game in context. This Bears team looked rock solid yesterday, particularly while running the ball and on defense. So let’s just assume for a second that they were overlooked going into 2017. If that’s true, then yesterday’s close win - on the road, in a sold out stadium, and with a fired up crowd - looks pretty good. So what’s my biggest takeaway from Falcons-Bears? Everyone needs to step away from the panic button. Not sure that’s a takeaway per se, but do it. Step away from the panic button. Do it. Do it now!
Week one has a funny way of bringing out the hottest of takes. The offense sputtered and didn’t challenge downfield like we were used to seeing in 2016. Falcons fans became frustrated with Steve Sarkisian very quickly, but there were several factors at play here. First, Matt Ryan hasn’t had a ton of on-field time with Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel. Additionally, Wes Schweitzer struggled mightily against a very stout Bears front seven. Finally, it was Sark’s first real NFL game as an OC. Even still, the Falcons managed to put up 23 points and secure a win on the road. It wasn’t pretty, but there’s no reason to believe these offensive issues can’t be fixed.
The Falcons are staring 1-15 in the face.
The Falcons have brand new, first-time play callers on both offense and defense. Guys like Julio Jones, Taylor Gabriel, and Devonta Freeman barely played in preseason. And the team still won on the road. It was closer than we wanted it to be, as per the team’s M.O. There is a lot of room for improvement, but I don’t think anyone expected the reworked team to hit the ground running at full speed. I’ll keep looking for when the wheels fall off the team, also per the team’s M.O., but it definitely hasn’t happened yet.
Last year the Falcons didn’t have it all together for the season opener and suffered a home loss to a division rival. This year they didn’t have it all together but managed to hang on for a win on the road. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win. Never mind Chicago’s record last year. Mike Glennon always plays well against us, so major props to the defense for getting four sacks and allowing only 17 points. Schweitzer drew a really tough assignment in his debut. Practice and experience will help. I’m certainly hoping to see better in-game adjustments from Sarkisian as the season progresses. Our offense went three-and-out three times in only eight drives. We need to clean up those penalties on special teams as well. Overall, the team was inconsistent but promising. And 1-0 certainly beats 0-1.
R-E-L-A-X. Week one appeared and gave the Falcons an opponent in the Chicago Bears that they are clearly better than from top to bottom. While they did not completely wipe the floor with the Bears, they got a win nonetheless. Outside of a handful of plays here and there, the Falcons defense showed exciting improvement. The offense were not their juggernaut selves, but that can be expected as offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is settling into the scheme and with his personnel. These type of wins are important also. The ones where the sleeves are rolled back and scrapping for a win is required. These are the type of wins that a team needs in order to show ascension.
Not a great performance but nothing to really be terrified about, especially in week one. If it were October or November, I would be worried, but it's September they’ve got some time to fix some things. Everyone calm down on the Sark heat, and be a little more patient. They played a poor game and still beat an underrated team. Be happy with the “W” and get ready for Green Bay on Sunday night. Should be a fun one.
If you were looking to see the Falcons blow out their opponent in Week 1, you were probably always going to be disappointed. This Bears team was a lot better than 3-13 last season, and they’re certainly much better than that in 2017. Atlanta looked sluggish on offense, but we saw glimpses of what they were capable of throughout the game. The defense started out hot before getting gashed by relatively unknown RB Tarik Cohen. In Week 1, sometimes you can get surprised by a player when there is little-to-no film available. The big takeaway is this: the Falcons defense won this game. It was in their hands and they shut the door with a great sack on fourth-and-goal. That’s an encouraging sign of things to come.
Brooks Reed wasn’t the only unsung hero on Sunday. For all of Reed’s efforts, De’Vondre Campbell proved to be the defensive player of the game. The second-year linebacker was very active in the off-season. From undergoing Lasik eye surgery to transitioning into playing as a strongside linebacker, there were measured expectations going into the season. A young player is supposed to improve, but could he handle multiple career altering changes in one year? Campbell appears to be thriving rather than handling it.
He was very active in the running game, along with landing some punishing hits on a few underneath throws. His work with Chuck Smith is already paying off after overpowering Charles Leno and nearly sacking Mike Glennon. Dan Quinn constantly preaches about the value of versatility. Campbell embodies his message by being able to play multiple positions. It was evident on a touchdown-saving pass breakup, as Campbell tracked back and deflected a sure touchdown to rookie stalwart Tarik Cohen. With so many young players commanding attention, Campbell hasn’t received much buzz going into the season. He showed his capabilities in a variety of impressive ways.