It’s been a whirlwind week so far for the Atlanta Falcons, and the only constant is that things are and continue to be bad.
Run game on the first drive
The Falcons’ opening offensive drive was promising, especially for a team that’s struggled to establish the game on the ground. It featured two promising runs by both Todd Gurley and Brian Hill, and was capped off by a 35-yard burst from Todd Gurley to start the afternoon on a positive note.
Gurley displayed his vision and breakaway speed ability as he put the exclamation point on Atlanta’s 92-yard drive to start Sunday against Carolina.
Fullback Keith Smith recovers the fumble
This should have been our warning that things were about to go massively sideways, but we issue the hat tip nonetheless. Matt Ryan lost the handle on the football after being sacked on Atlanta’s third drive. As Carolina defensive end Brian Burns attempted the likely scoop-and-score, Falcons fullback Keith Smith was able to secure the loose ball.
This was in the second quarter. Things would go downhill from there.
Sunday, a game that ended the Falcons tenure of both Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, was a coming-out-party for running back Todd Gurley. It was vintage Gurley in the ground game, logging his first 100 yard rushing game since 2018 which included a key touchdown in the first quarter.
Russell Gage’s drop
The typically sure-handed wide receiver had one hit him right in the hands early in the second quarter, and while he’s been phenomenal in 2020, this was a season lowlight.
Isaiah Oliver roasted by D.J. Moore
What is even going on with Isaiah Oliver? He’s looked abysmal in coverage as a starting cornerback this season, and nowhere was that more apparent than the 57-yard touchdown he surrendered to D.J. Moore in the second quarter.
Oliver completely took the bait on Moore’s stutter step on a quick route over the middle, providing the speedster with the room to take a five-yard flip all the way into the end zone for a 12-7 Panthers lead.
Isaiah Oliver has all the physical traits to be an effective cornerback in the NFL. So far, his mental mistakes have stifled his potential.
Matt Ryan’s fourth quarter interception
You knew this would be here, and as much as it was a terrible read by Atlanta’s quarterback, it was also just an awful play design by Dirk Koetter in a critical moment. Russell Gage was blanketed by Juston Burris in the end zone, yet Ryan let fly with the ill-conceived pass that would lead to a pick and eventually end the game.