Rejoice Atlanta Falcons fans! It’s officially football Sunday, and in a year that’s seen so many trials and tribulations, this is well needed for us true football fans.
Today at 1 p.m. in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons face off against Coach Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks. This will certainly be a test right out of the gate for the Falcons as we get to see if their play at the end of 2019 wasn’t a fluke.
Who will we need to keep an eye on in regards to the game?
Coach Dirk Koetter
This game will be a good glimpse as to how Koetter approaches his personnel with his “new knowledge” of the offense. How he calls his initial plays, the personnel groupings and how he adjusts his game plan based on the looks the defense gives will be crucial to how effective the offense will be going forward, because too often we saw this offense fall short and look rigid in 2019.
He also has a great player in RB Todd Gurley added to the squad, so I’m really interested to see how he utilizes Gurley at the start of the game and as the game progresses. Against their defensive line and considering Gurley’s history against the Seahawks, it will greatly benefit Koetter to establish the running game early and often. Gurley has averaged nearly 4.3 yards per carry and has scored 11 times on the ground against Seattle in 9 games, adding 22 receptions and another touchdown through the air.
Will he though? We will certainly find out.
Dante Fowler, Jr.
Fowler makes his debut as an Atlanta Falcon against a former division rival. Now it seems as if he has turned a corner in his career as a pass rusher, and this will be our first glimpse of the type of impact he can and will have on the field.
It has been quite some time since the Falcons have had a true impact player on the edge, and this is Fowler’s opportunity to show he’s a top tier pass rusher. If he can give a dominant performance against the front 5 of the Seattle Seahawks, it will certainly be a good start to the season, and it bodes well for the defense as a whole. In two games against the Seahawks a year ago, he had 1.5 sacks and 3 quarterback hits, so he has certainly shown he can get to Russell Wilson.
It goes without saying that Terrell is going to be a key player to watch. Considered a reach by some analysts, Terrell has certainly impressed in camp going against the likes of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. However, we all know that the game is totally different when it counts.
Terrell will get quite the challenge in 2nd year WR DK Metcalf on occasion. Will Terrell rise to the occasion? If his career in Clemson was any indicator, he absolutely will.
Although Coach Quinn stated that snaps will be split between Hennessy and Carpenter, it is clear that Quinn wants Hennessy at that spot for the season and possibly long term.
If that’s the case, it really makes sense to have him starting now taking all snaps rather than later, especially from a continuity standpoint. How Hennessy performs in the running game and in pass protection would certainly give insight as to how the line as a whole performs, as improvement is expected on the right side of the line and Jake Matthews and Alex Mack are the most consistent of the group. Hennessy’s pass protection chops in particular should make him an upgrade over what the Falcons had a year ago.
With Devondre Campbell now in Arizona, the spotlight is now on Oluokun to step up next to Deion Jones and be a good complement to him.
Oluokun has certainly shown an ability in coverage, as is essential for current day LBs, and he’s always willing to get his hands dirty in the run game. The only problem is that we haven’t seen enough of him to know how consistent he can be. Given that he is now a starter, he will get the opportunity to show he’s deserving of the spot as he will get tested early and often. He absolutely has the talent and ability to be more productive than Campbell, but let’s see if he capitalizes on the opportunity.
The team as a whole in regards to consistency, adjustments and overall focus and energy will be something to watch against the Seahawks. That being said, let’s celebrate and enjoy this Falcons fans, as this has been a long time coming!