The Atlanta Falcons have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, not that any of us were clinging to that extreme unlikelihood. We’ve been mentally treading water since about Week 2, and Sunday’s game against the Chargers was just further confirmation that this franchise needs to fully reevaluate.
Matt Ryan let the team down in this one, and as such, he leads the way with the moments that made us frustrated, annoyed, angered, and resigned to better outcomes in 2021.
Russell Gage airs it out
Russell Gage had an opportunity for a long touchdown pass out of the wildcat formation earlier in the year, as Julio Jones dropped the would-be score against the Cowboys in Week 2. He got another chance with that offensive wrinkle on Sunday against the Chargers, and this time there would be no drops.
In the first quarter, Gage lined up in in the shotgun and uncorked a perfect 39-yard pass to Calvin Ridley who snared it as he sprinted into the end zone. Seriously: This ball was absolutely laced. It was a fun (and productive) wrinkle in Atlanta’s offense, and one that they should keep in the playbook for 2021 — especially considering Russell Gage’s arm. Whew.
Russell Gage’s reception for long gain in 2Q 13 minutes. Got the first down, planted his foot and juked the defender for the long gain after the catch.
A milestone for Calvin Ridley
We’ve known that third-year wideout Calvin Ridley has had all the makings of a top receiver for awhile, and against the Chargers he ticked off one of those critical top receiver boxes: eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his young career. Hopefully the first of many.
Matt Ryan’s sketchy day under center
There could be a few entrants here, but Matt Ryan had enough head-scratchers on the day to fill the whole block.
His day started off poorly and would just get worse from there. On Atlanta’s first offensive possession, Ryan heaved a poor pass to Russell Gage, overthrowing him by about five yards — which was likely a blessing as we he was blanketed by two defenders.
The shoddy defensive reads would get worse from there, and they would directly impact the outcome of the game. Matt Ryan’s trifecta of interceptions all took place in the third-quarter, the first of which was a deep ball to Calvin Ridley in the end zone when the receiver was nowhere near open. It would lead to the Chargers tying the game at 17-17.
Two drives later, with the Falcons looking to take the lead, Ryan stared down Hayden Hurst and was picked by Los Angeles safety Jahleel Addae, another awful read on the day for Matt Ryan.
The dagger that sealed it was a quick pass to the right intended for Calvin Ridley, setting up the Chargers for the game-winning field goal.
It has not been the best year on Matt Ryan’s resume, but his lack of execution throughout — and especially in the second half — rank as one of his worst in recent memory.