The Falcons offense, despite three turnovers and a few miscues, put up 30 points in a road win. That’s good, and it’s a testament to how good these Falcons are. Really, the game wasn’t nearly as close as the (correct) overturned call to end the game would’ve led you to believe.
I was blown away by how good the running game was vs. Detroit. Devonta and Tevin were consistently churning out chunk yardage runs. The Falcons’ ground game success was an underrated reason why the Falcons managed to pull off a road win despite a 3-turnover deficit.
The Falcons defense is improving every week. This time, against an efficient Lions offense and missing their key pass rusher, the Falcons still managed to stifle Matt Stafford and hold them to 19 offensive points. It’s not a great defense - not yet anyway - but the signs of improvement are clearly there. Once they can clean up some of the more egregious penalties and occasional lapses in coverage, this could become a very good unit. Until then, I’ll gladly take an average one on the upswing.
The Falcons aren’t perfect yet they have an uncanny knack for picking each other up. Yesterday we saw Matt Ryan overthrow his receivers and throw three picks (admittedly only one was his fault), but the running attack was outstanding. Desmond Trufant was penalized a couple times late in the game, but the front seven manhandled Matthew Stafford in the first half. Both Ty Sambrailo and Wes Schweitzer continued to struggle, but Steve Sarkisian was able to scheme around them, getting them help as needed. It’s a little corny but this “Brotherhood” mantra rings true, and I dig it.
Three quick takeaways: 1) After three weeks it’s Atlanta 3, NFC North 0. If we win against Minnesota, Jerry Glanville might have a trophy made to declare us champions of the Norris Division. 2) I’m just happy to escape another road game with another win. Every game we play is much needed experience for Schweitzer, Takk, Riley, Hooper, about half the rest of the roster, plus both of our new coordinators and other new assistant coaches. We’re pushing them all through their learning curves and somehow still racking up W’s while doing it. 3) We need Ryan Schraeder and Vic Beasley back soon. QB “hurries” isn’t an official stat, but it seemed to me that Detroit’s pass rush generated pressure more frequently than Atlanta’s pass rush - even though both teams had two sacks and Atlanta had one more QB “hit” listed in the NFL’s game book.
Stafford seemed to have more time and a clean pocket more often than Ryan. If we’re going to be a championship team, that needs to be the other way around.
Quick admission: I turned the game off. It was right after the Trufant PI call, and with first and goal I considered a repeat of the game-ending sack vs. Chicago to be impossible. I was right - the Falcons won on a technicality and without argument deserve to be 2-1 after three Matt Ryan INTs.
But they’re not, and they’re the only undefeated team in the NFC. So when home field and playoff seeding becomes an issue in December vs. what looks to be a playoff team in Detroit, the ten-second runoff can be our tuck rule. Lions fans seem like nice people but I don’t care if every game ends in a screwjob call so long as we’re the screwers. I was at the Super Bowl.
Put me in the camp that’s far more concerned about the right side of the offensive line than the state of the pass rush (although Stafford worked clean for most of the second half comeback). I’m mixed about the INTs - the Pick-6 was vintage 2015 Confused Matt Ryan, but the other two were tips from catchable passes. Ryan looked less like his 2016 self for most of the day. I’d like to think that’s an OL issue and not something more foreboding.
The Falcons dealt with the loss of Kyle Shanahan, a coach that all analysts know was the only reason the Falcons were above average. They also had to deal with that Super Bowl hangover, something that was going to haunt them terribly throughout the season. The next few weeks look pretty manageable, so I expect all the trash takes to slow down just a bit.
Despite the strange and ultimately rather unsatisfying ending, the Falcons are 3-0 and sitting atop the entire NFC. Sure, two of the victories weren't dominant performances, but they were wins nonetheless. The Falcons offense is dynamic and the defense is improving, and I'm pretty happy with their resilience thus far. Look at the rest of the league: every other NFC South team has serious issues, and the “contenders” are all struggling. Atlanta looks like one of the best teams in the NFL, and I'm pretty excited about the season thus far. Next up are the Bills, and chance for the Falcons to go into the bye undefeated.
You’re going to win ugly on the road sometimes, and frankly this was that rare Falcons narrow win that felt like it looked uglier than it actually was. One or two calls and one or two dropped passes erased and the Falcons probably win big against a quality Detroit Lions team, so while I’m certainly mindful of the team’s need to improve, I’m not exactly worried just yet. Let’s see how they hold up against a quality Bills defense this week at home, shall we?