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The Falcons first 5 games: Hat tips & head-scratchers

The Falcoholic is back online in time for a pre-bye retrospective.

Syndication: Palm Beach Post Thomas Cordy via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Agitator in Chief and information technology moonlighter Matt Chambers jiggled the wires on our Fresh Content Internet Delivery System to get us back online in time to bring you the Hat tips & head-scratchers through the Falcons’ first five weeks.

Hat tips

Cordarrelle Patterson’s ascension

It’s frankly shocking to me that Cordarrelle Patterson bounced around the league since being drafted 29th overall by the Vikings in 2013 and no team has been able to harness his unique skillset on offense.

Patterson has proven that he’s not just a top-flight kick return specialist but a Swiss Army Knife capable of doing damage in both the ground and passing game. He’s been Atlanta’s MVP through the first five games, tallying 173 rushing yards and a touchdown to go along with 25 receptions for 295 yards and four touchdowns.

His career highs rushing and receiving are 232 yards and 469 yards, respectively. Patterson looks poised to shatter those marks in 2021.

A magnificent signing by the Falcons, and an otherworldly performance by the veteran through five games.

A.J. Terrell quiets doubters

Sophomore cornerback A.J. Terrell entered the league immediately facing scrutiny. There were doubts on his prowess as a defender, doubts on his draft positioning, doubts on his ability to contribute as a top corner at the NFL-level.

He flashed a bit last season but has come into his own in his second year in the league, silencing some doubters along the way.

Terrell has lived up to his first round selection so far, showing he can be the shutdown corner the Falcons envisioned him to be when they selected him 16th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Through the first five games (he missed Week 4 due to a concussion) he’s only allowed six catches for 42 yards, and has two PBUs and a forced fumble under his belt.

He’s successfully navigated the league learning curve to become the most reliable member of Atlanta’s secondary.

Head-scratchers

Atlanta’s identity crisis

With a new regime entering the picture, the Falcons went heavy on the win-now messaging prior to — and during — the season. I’m not going to call it a true bait-and-switch because this team has looked better in the last few weeks, but it’s apparent that the actual onfield production has not matched what was being sold by the marketing team.

Are they competing, or is this a slow-burn rebuild? You traded Julio Jones, drafted a receiving tight end fourth overall, and he was a ghost in the gameplan through four weeks.

Your best offensive weapon on the ground has been Cordarrelle Patterson, but he’s only averaging 8.2 carries a game.

You feigned a fake punt that turned into a real punt against the Bucs to then fail at a fourth-down conversion from nearly the same spot on the field on the ensuing drive.

This team still does not know what it is and isn’t, and while we’ve seen flashes of potential, it’s clear that they’re in a transitional phase — call it as it is.

Call it growing pains, call it a stubborn marketing strategy, but it’s boggled the mind through five games.

Calvin Ridley’s slow start

What’s up with wide receiver Calvin Ridley? There’s always been some wackiness to his open field route-running, but in 2021 it’s resulting in actively avoiding contact to the detriment of moving the chains. Couple that with his drops (which seem to occur in consequential situations), Ridley has not been the player that we saw step into the WR1 role in Julio Jones’ stead last season.

If the Falcons hope to improve on the disaster that was 2020 they will need Calvin Ridley to return to the form we know he’s capable of. Thankfully, it looks like he’ll be back this week to hopefully do just that.