That was ugly. Whether you’re in the one game at a time camp and scolding us for panicking or the “I told you so” camp and scolding us for believing, you can’t deny the simple truth that the Falcons were absolutely awful against the Vikings. While Minnesota gets their justified buzz as one of the NFC’s best teams and tries to carry that momentum into a divisional matchup against the Packers, the Falcons have to lick their wounds and somehow figure out a better way forward against the Eagles, a team that has also confounded them for years.
With some time to consider, here are our takes on what happened Sunday.
The Falcons had huge expectations coming into this game, but some things were probably overlooked. Starting two rookies on the offensive line against a top-tier D is asking for trouble. When your normally solid left tackle begins whiffing, that spells major problems. The revamped D? Yeah, they still couldn’t stop the run. All of that said, it’s still one game and the NFL has a wicked history of giving us false impressions after one week. This sucks. It hurts. It was ugly in the worst of ways. What matters now is how they respond. I’ll wait for the Eagles game before I cash in my hottest of takes. - David Walker
It was pretty clear the Falcons were starting the season on the wrong foot. Despite it being a fantastically unpopular opinion, there were far too many questions regarding the team even after five preseason games. We have seen this same thing before: new coaches, unset depth charts, and multiple players missing significant snaps with the starters. That being said, this was way uglier than I expected. I have no doubt the Falcons will improve, but it is fair to wonder if coaching issues will be fixable. - Matt Chambers
On one hand, I know that the offensive line should get more cohesive as the season goes on, and I understand that the Vikings are legitimately good. That was a tough road matchup for the first week of the season. On the other hand, that was just an absolute catastrophe. The Falcons looked utterly unprepared. If we don’t see a significant turnaround next week against the Eagles, I may be ready to adjust my expectations for this team in 2019. - Jeanna Thomas
Woof, that was a real turd, wasn’t it? Let’s be real here: the performance against the Vikings was an abject disaster. The Falcons looked completely unprepared to stop the outside zone run on defense, and the offense turned the ball over four times over the course of the game. Atlanta was down 14-0 within minutes, and it was 28-0 before they scored their first point. But, the truth is, I’m not panicking.
This was always going to be an extremely difficult start: on the road, against an elite defense, with a coach who has owned the Falcons since 2014. Coming off an offseason with a ton of hype behind it, it was natural for fans to have high expectations. My advice to you is this: don’t adjust those expectations just yet. The Falcons have a tough game this week against the Eagles, but then face an easier stretch. It’s one admittedly disastrous game out of sixteen. There’s a lot of football left to play, and this team is too talented to look like this. - Kevin Knight
Toward the end of the summer and leading up to this game, the Falcons did a few things that made me nervous. The late reversal on their kicker situation to sign Matt Bryant, the stated plan to rotate Ty Sambrailo and Kaleb McGary, and the last second nature of the Julio deal all gave me the sense that this team was not, for all their smooth Thomas Dimitroff videos and busy offseason, working off a master plan that was still running as it should.
But it wasn’t enough to convince me to pick against one of the most talented teams, on paper, that we’ve seen here. I liked the upgrades the Falcons made, I’m a big booster of guys like Takk, Campbell, and Oliver, and despite my lack of enduring love for Dirk Koetter, I figured this team was better positioned to weather the ugliness the Vikings can bring.
We can say it’s just one game—and it is, at the end of the day—but there are jobs on the line and an organization that has pushed right up against the cap to contend, and games like that beggar belief in that light. A handful of plays could’ve made this one competitive, but aren’t we all tired of saying that about a handful of plays when the Falcons always massively screw up a handful of plays?
I’m not predicting this one’s going to lead to a derailed, lost, and disappointing season, but as great as the Vikings are this was a massive dud and one that’s justly going to put Dan Quinn and company on Arthur Blank’s hottest armchair. If they can’t make it work with this group, with massive changes to the coaching staff, and with their cakewalk-y schedule after the first two weeks, it’s not happening with the current brain trust. - Dave Choate
We not only lost, we got embarrassed. The team came out looking unprepared and were essentially outplayed and outcoached in all four quarters. There were barely any positives to take away from the matchup, as the score looks closer than the game actually was.
I spent all offseason beating the drums for the team to bring back Matt Bryant, and honestly folks, I could’ve been back there kicking because it didn’t matter. When the team did score, they went for the two-point conversion both times and failed. I will say, it was Week 1, so hopefully the staff and players will use the beatdown to improve on everything they failed at. Unfortunately, it’s not going to get easier in week two as we have our home-opener on Sunday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles – who have in recent years been a thorn in our side. Who better to turn things around on? - Evan