After each win or loss of the Falcons season, we like to quickly survey a few writers and see what they’ve learned from the last game. Sometimes those answers are easy to come by and very specific, and other times they’re more big picture and nebulous. We’re in the latter camp today.
The offense still has no identity
I know many are going to point to the shortcomings of the defense and rightfully so, but this team was built to be a top-7 or even top-5 scoring offense. They spent two first rounders in 2019 to fix the offensive line. They traded a 2nd round pick to get a more athletic tight end. They brought in Todd Gurley to fix the running game. After all of that investment, the best they could muster was 25 points at home, with much of that coming in garbage time.
Gurley looked good early, but the running game still seems to be an after thought to Koetter. The usage of the running back rotation seemed haphazard at best and idiotic at worse. The team had 3 100 yard receivers, but seemed unable to use them effectively for 2.5 quarters. We saw more play action and pre-snap movement, but it didn’t seem to add up to much. It’s the first game and maybe some of this is rust, but I have yet to see anything resembling a true “plan” for this offense. I hope the next few games prove me wrong. - David Walker
This team is still starting slow and playing flat football
The Falcons were well aware that they couldn’t afford to come out flat against Seattle, not after Arthur Blank and company invested in the narrative that the second half reflected the true level of talent of this football team and its defense in particular. Yet that’s exactly what they did, muddling their way through things early (after going up 3-0, they would never lead again) and late (they could have lost by 20, honestly). The secondary got burned over and over, four fourth down attempts came and went without a conversion, and the passing game just sort of chugged along until the game was out of reach.
Again, this is the kind of performance the Falcons couldn’t afford to have, and the fact that it hinged on such a small number of plays again does not obscure the fact that you have to play pretty poorly to lose 38-25 at home, even against good teams. The last two years have made it clear that these flat starts are rarely aberrations, which is why I’m so worried about their fortunes heading into Week 2. It’s hard to believe things are happening in a vacuum when that’s so rarely actually the case. -Dave Choate
Same story, different year
Well, here we are. Sitting here after another crushing Week 1 loss where the team was barely even competitive. The Falcons started off playing fairly encouraging football: the offense, despite some struggles, moved the ball well; and the defense poured on the pressure consistently for the first time in ages, only to be outdone by a bad coverage mistake. It wouldn’t last, however, the with traditional third quarter slump coming for this team in a big way. By the time the fourth quarter happened, the Falcons were no longer in contention for the win.
The defense gave up nearly 40 points at home. The offense, despite producing over 500 (!!) yards, managed a meager 25 points—with 7 of those coming in pure garbage time. Dirk Koetter’s offense once again looked great between the 20s but couldn’t produce when it mattered. The red zone was mediocre, and the Falcons went 0-4 on 4th down. Meanwhile, on defense, the team finally has what looks like a fearsome pass rush...but it’s backed up by a disastrous secondary that allowed a career day for Russell Wilson.
I’ve seen this show before, and I’m no longer willing to give this team the benefit of the doubt—I’m generally the optimistic one! Dan Quinn and Company better turn things around quick, because there’s very little patience left in the fanbase. -Kevin Knight
It’s only Week 1, don’t panic… yet.
Probably not the popular take, but it was only Week 1 and I’m not yet ready to panic. The Seattle Seahawks weren’t a pushover team, and several league analysts even have them picked to make the Super Bowl. The Seahawks were better coached and once the Falcons fell behind, it was game over.
At the same time, I’m not optimistic either. The team even with a few flashes of a promising pass rush, struggled overall. Todd Gurley averaged 5 yards per carry in the first half and then became a non-factor in the second half. I think in a normal year I’d be more worried, but to be honest, I loved seeing my favorite sport return. We wanted Falcons football back, and that’s exactly what we got. - Evan Birchfield
Things can change but this team has no reason to be given the benefit of the doubt
The season-opening game was essentially one big “oomf” after Arthur Blank kept the coaching staff and front office for the sake of consistency. It is a weird offseason without preseason, yes, but the Seahawks were in the same situation then traveled across the country. The Falcons can definitely improve after getting into the gist of things, however, we have said that a lot. This is also not a young team with fresh coaching and a new scheme.
This is, in theory, the same offense and defense since 2015. We may just have to come to terms with this being a bad football team until we see otherwise. So far, this feels like another 7-9 season, short of a miraculous 2016 turnaround. - Matt Chambers
It’s only week one but there are still numerous concerns
Given the opponent, I did not expect an easy game for the Falcons. Russell Wilson is elite, D.K. Metcalf will have a breakout year, and the Seahawks are always well coached. But on offense and defense, the Falcons showed plenty of mistakes that has manifested plenty during the Dan Quinn era.
Unbalanced offensive play calling along with a defense filled with inconsistencies resulted in a week one loss. There are 15 games remaining and these issues are unquestionably fixable. Thanks to having a roster full of talent, optimism still has life. But if the Falcons want to make a legitimate Super Bowl run, they cannot keep falling victim to the same woes that has been present for several seasons. - Eric Robinson