Game one is in the books for the Atlanta Falcons. With the advantage of a few days to clear our heads, here is what was learned from their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Once again, incredibly close.
As was the game played in January with a trip to the NFC Championship Game on the line, it came down to the very last play. As was the result in that same game, it relied on a pass attempt from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones with a win waiting in the balance.
This ending was by just six points. Fingers were instantly pointed at the offensive coordinator, the $100 million dollar quarterback, missed turnover opportunities, lack of run game, the offensive line, the beer vendor, the weather, breakfast that the Falcons had earlier that morning, basically everything. I’m not here to place blame. It’s obvious that task has already been accomplished.
I will say this however. The Falcons can play with any team in the league. That is quite obvious with the last two match-ups against the Eagles coming down to the very last drive. A play or two here and there and the Eagles would be staring at a two-game losing streak to the Falcons. I’m pretty sure of that. Sure, it’s easy to look at Ryan’s performance and come away discouraging. We’ve seen Ryan play significantly better. He’s only one full season removed from winning Most Valuable Player.
Sure, we easily could point out that the Falcons defense were gassed late in the game and was seeing important players exit the game with various injuries.
We could also pinpoint Steve Sarkisian’s play calling difficulties, and yes there were several. For a coordinator that showed plenty of struggles last season, it was crystal clear that he still has room for improvement. For Falcons fans, that room for improvement is wished to be narrowed sooner rather than later.
Battling the Eagles in Philadelphia will never be easy. The team takes after the scrappiness that is embedded in the city itself. This year’s edition of Eagles is arguably the league’s best. So while the Falcons took a few punches to the chin, they delivered a few as well and had the defending Super Bowl champions off their A-game for four quarters.
So what was learned? That the Falcons have plenty of offensive firepower and can attack at any moment. It’s really more about getting on the same sheet of music with Sarkisian. What was also learned is that the Falcons defense is blossoming. Gradually, the youth and talent on the defense is turning the unit into a very solid one at that.
What was mainly learned on top of all that was that the Falcons are possibly holding themselves back. On both sides of the ball. That is somewhat a reflection to head coach Dan Quinn and his preparedness. Realizing their potential and acting upon it may make the difference between just being a ‘good’ team and being a possible Super Bowl winner.