The Falcons have one win in the books, and the team’s two new coordinators acquitted themselves reasonably well in their first action. Nobody was thrilled with the way Atlanta won in Chicago, mind you, but it was a win, and those remain important.
As D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote yesterday, the Green Bay game provides a stiffer challenge for Marquand Manuel on the defensive side, but it’s not going to be a peachy keen walk in the park or whatever for Steve Sarkisian either.
For Manuel and the defense, the challenge will be stopping Aaron Rodgers, dynamic running back/converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery, and a cast of solid receiving options that includes Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and tight end Martellus Bennett.
For Sark and the offense, the challenge is working against the Packers’ so-called Nitro package, which features a lot of defensive backs, and a quietly stout run defense. It’s not likely to hold this potent attack entirely in check, but with questions swirling in the fanbase about Sark’s aggressiveness and creativity after just one week, it could still create some disquieting setbacks.
As it turns out, the Bears did challenge both coordinators, but not in the same way you’d expect the Packers to. Chicago was only able to put up 17 points and got by chiefly on the strength of a strong ground game, while defensively Chicago did an impressive job of shutting down the run but couldn’t quite hold Matt Ryan and company in check. Atlanta’s extremely likely to score more than they did in Chicago against the Packers, but there’s a more opportunistic secondary here and a much better offense to contend with. It doesn’t figure to be easy.
If the Falcons impress here, I expect we’ll all feel better about Sark in particular. May they do so.