Of course they were decided to keep us on the edge of our seats a bit. Nonetheless, a trip overseas that resulted in a 27-20 victory over the New York Jets allowed the Atlanta Falcons to move to 2-3 on the season.
An impressive day from their veteran quarterback and rookie tight end led to a big lead early in which the team had to endure a potential comeback from the Jets. It’s time to highlight the five things we learned from their week five triumph.
#1: Evolution of Kyle Pitts
The clamoring was at a deafening level. Over the first four weeks of the season, everyone urged the Falcons to incorporate more Kyle Pitts into their offensive attack. While they have definitely looked his way plenty of times to start the season, the services of Pitts were needed even more as they took on the Jets because of injury.
The rookie out of Florida reached career highs across the board with nine receptions for 119 yards and his first professional touchdown. The Jets, for some reason, matched up 1-on-1 against Pitts plenty of times on the day and the Falcons took advantage. If this was a glimpse into the future, the Falcons may have themselves a phenom at the tight end spot.
#2: Offense tripping themselves
No one likes turning the ball over, especially when you are in prime scoring territory. A pair of fumbles deep in Jets territory spoiled promising drives for the Falcons. When you account for the Falcons playing without Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage, the Falcons had a chance to post at least 30 points on the day.
But of course, fumbles by tight end Hayden Hurst and running back Mike Davis inside the Jets 30-yard line essentially took points off the board. Cleaning this up is necessary, especially for an offense that is in need of finding and keeping their footing as a unit.
#3: Young defenders stepping up
When you are equipped with a well-respected defensive play caller like Dean Pees, you can expect some old school teaching and philosophy. What comes with that insight is often favoring the ability to field veterans over younger prospects. The Falcons, however, they were in need of young faces to step to the plate.
A number of young talented players left their fingerprints on the game for the Falcons defense. Second-year safety Jaylinn Hawkins had a critical interception late in the first half to keep the Jets off the board with potential points. Rookie edge rusher Ade Ogundeji notched his first career sack on a pivotal drive late for the Jets. Rookie safety Richie Grant produced three tackles and a pass deflection that forced a fourth down for the Jets early in the game.
The Falcons defense has seen more struggles that favorable play on defense and it feels more like an all-hands-on-deck approach is in order.
#4: Milestones for Matty Ice
Veteran quarterback Matt Ryan has snagged an impressive amount of milestones over the past few seasons and he added to that count on Sunday. He reached eighth all-time in total passing yards and surpassed former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
On the day, he also became the seventh player in NFL history to total 5,000 completions in their career. The debate of whether or not Matt Ryan will be a future Hall-of-Famer is a pretty watered down one when you consider the number of accolades he has under his belt.
#5: Still a red flag
The number of drops that the Falcons have produced in recent weeks has become an eyesore. Currently they are tied for 24th in the NFL in total drops with eight and over the past two weeks of the season, they are tied for dead last in total drops with five. That’s not where they want to be.
Ryan is still trying to get accustomed to leaning on certain players a little more than normal, considering that he is only five games in to life without Julio Jones. Installing a new offensive scheme is complex enough. It definitely does not help things when plays are left on the field because of dropped passes.