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5 takeaways for the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1

A winnable game against the Seahawks results in a season opening defeat. Here is what we learned.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Different season, same foe.

It appears that these two teams lock horns just about every season and each showdown is a physical matchup that has it share of big plays. This time around, the Atlanta Falcons found themselves on the losing end of a 38-25 defeat by the Seattle Seahawks. An 0-1 start to the season leaves a bitter taste, but here are five things we learned from the season opener.

Defense has plenty of work to do

There were a number of positives to come from the Falcons defense. For one, the unit registered three sacks and showed signs of putting pressure on Russell Wilson. They even forced the Seahawks to convert just three of their nine third down opportunities, something we know this team struggles with. That includes holding the Seahawks scoreless in the second quarter to allow the offense to draw closer.

Outside of that, the issues stuck out like a sore thumb. Wilson was able to complete 88% of his passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns. The one fourth down conversion they gave up so happened to be a 38-yard touchdown pass. When the offense could have used a stop in the second half to possibly mount a comeback, not a turnover or a sack was in sight. This veteran unit needs to find ways to make a critical turnover or two to help out an offense that can move the ball effectively. They haven’t been able to do that consistently, however, and that continued Sunday.

Pass rush made some noise

I should not have to partake in the pass rushing woes that the Falcons endured last season. So seeing the Falcons defensive line register three sacks in the first half was a definite pleasant sight. The 10 quarterback hits were a nice touch as well.

The selection process for the final roster saw the Falcons keep double digit defensive linemen, which showed the emphasis this team is putting on getting after the quarterback and being tough at the line of scrimmage. A tough test comes in the form of the Dallas Cowboys in week two but in week one, the Falcons showed some improvement in this facet to build on, and Dallas had troubles stopping the Rams pass rush last weekend.

Play calling is still a significant question mark

Having Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Todd Gurley, Matt Ryan, Russell Gage and more, calling plays should not be an issue at all. Finding the right game flow is a little more complex than it seems but it should not regularly hurt the team.

Three fourth down opportunities in Seattle territory resulted in stalled drives and even worse, was converted into Seattle touchdowns. Was it necessary to go for a 4th down on Seattle’s 11-yard line when a field goal would have trimmed the deficit to two scores? That’s up for debate. Either way. the play calling and execution left a ton on points on the field.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Passing game can be lethal

Coming into the contest, it was noted that the passing element for the Falcons is likely to be their bread and butter. Seeing Matt Ryan attempt 54 passes was more of a testament of the team playing from behind for most of the game, because you’d prefer to see more efficiency on fewer attempts.

However, seeing Jones, Ridley, and Gage each total nine receptions and all three having 100-yard games was a result of having a talented group that can cause problems for defenses. Having Gurley in the fold is key and incorporating him in this phase will be important, but the Falcons passing aspect can undoubtedly pick defenses apart even if he’s not involved.

Matt Ryan produces

The Falcons quarterback reached a historic milestone on Sunday. The 2016 league MVP surpassed former Broncos quarterback John Elway for ninth all-time in the passing yards list. If you’re not familiar with the all time listing, that top-10 consists of names such as Elway, Dan Marino, Tom Brady, and Peyton Manning. The Hall of Fame talk is legitimate, in my opinion, and Ryan showed us he’s still quite capable of putting up numbers.

Ryan is top-11 in passing yards, completions and passing touchdowns. He is also sixth all-time in completion percentage and eighth in fourth-quarter comebacks. As the saying goes, numbers don’t lie.