Today, it’s round two of the heated division rivalry as the Atlanta Falcons play the New Orleans Saints in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The first game in New Orleans, the Falcons were manhandled physically as the Saints harassed Matt Ryan all day. Due to the multiple sacks, poor play from Ryan and no adjustments of any kind from OC Dirk Koetter, the Falcons couldn’t really muster up any kind of offense against a good Saints defense.
In this game, if the Falcons are to prevent a season sweep, there are some players that have to have a much better game.
The entire offensive line
The Saints absolutely pummeled Matt Ryan in the previous game. Now, not all of that was on the offensive line, as Ryan made some poor decisions and held the ball entirely too long in some situations. However, it still holds true that this offensive line must play better in all facets if the Falcons will have a shot at winning this game. Also, considering that starting left guard James Carpenter will be out, the unit’s cohesiveness will be in question when going up against one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.
For the first time this season, Treadwell was added to the after 53 man roster and is expected to play some snaps today. A former 1st round pick of the Minnesota Vikings, Treadwell has had a disappointing career so far.
Given that Julio Jones is questionable and Olamide Zaccheaus is officially on injury reserved, it’ll be interesting how much of an impact Treadwell can make. Losing Zaccheaus takes speed and explosiveness away from the WR corps, but we will certainly see if Treadwell can make a different impact with the time he will get, and whether his size and physicality will translate into production.
I can’t begin to overstate how amazed I am at the play of Oluokun. He currently leads the team in tackles, has made a tremendous impact in the running game and in coverage, and has been an overall menace on defense. Oluokun has now become a player that offensive coordinators must account for when game planning against the Falcons.
A big thing to watch this game is how he will be used against a Saints offense that is starting a more athletic QB in Taysom Hill. It will be interesting to see if any changes will be made using Oluokun to contain Hill and that Saints offense, because there are few defenders more qualified to do it.
The Falcons had a big bounce back game against the Las Vegas Raiders after their first loss to the Saints. In that game, however, it was the defense that had a dominant showing that ultimately led to a big victory against the Raiders.
To be completely honest, the defense really didn’t have a horrible showing against the Saints in the first loss as they gave up 24 points. I feel like a broken record in saying this, but the offense under Dirk Koetter is sorely underperforming, and this offense is entirely too talented to be underutilized. It is quite clear that nothing will change schematically at this point of the season offensively.
As well as the defense has progressed, it’s a bit unfair to lean on them to pull this game out, but ultimately, considering what has been seen, that’s likely what is to be expected. The biggest question for this game is will the offense finally show up, execute and have a better game today? If they do, the Falcons will stand a chance here.