In many ways, the Falcons game against the Eagles seemed more like a “preseason game 5” than the first game that counts. It was a sloppy, penalty ridden affair that was a nightmare for Falcons fans even as it dragged into the wee hours of the morning. For a while there, it looked like half of our defense was going to be out with injuries, though the status of Keanu Neal is still concerning. You probably already know some of these takeaways, but alas, here we are.
Matt Ryan had his worst game in recent memory
There’s no way around this, but this was easily one of the worst games Ryan has had in a long time. Granted, he was not helped by some of the play calling, collapsing pockets, drops and penalties, but his accuracy was off far more than normal and he appeared to lock on to a single receiver throughout the game, often completely missing guys that were wide open. Unfortunately, he gave his critics the kind of ammunition they salivate over. I’d advise all of you to stay away from Atlanta sports radio until the dust settles, lest your face be melted off by the hot, hot takes.
The good news is this: throughout his 10+ year career, Ryan rarely follows up a game like this with another stinker. He almost always bounces back and gets his crap together. With a division opponent coming up next, we desperately need him to do just that.
Defense looked great
I don’t want to overstate the performance of the defense, since they were going up against a backup QB missing his two top wide receivers, but the defense looked great overall. They basically shutdown the Eagles passing game and limited Zack Ertz to a measly 48 yards on 5 receptions. In fact, the Eagles had only 132 yards receiving, though they did break the 100 yard mark on the ground.
The defensive line also had some encouraging moments going against one of the best offensive lines in the league. Takk McKinley got a sack while the entire unit appeared to be harassing Nick Foles throughout the evening. The secondary was great all night, with Robert Alford being a particular stand-out.
This was an encouraging performance and one that we all hope they build on.
Not time to freak out
I’ll keep this one short: don’t freak out. Game one in the NFL is often fluky and impossible to predict. There was so much about this game that was off. From the penalty flags galore to the missed calls to the play calling to the execution, it’s hard to pin the blame on any one thing - though it’s certain to happen. Let’s see where this team is in week 2 before we write the obituary on the 2018 season.