Atlanta’s second straight win has them sitting at a cool 2-0 against the AFC East in the early going, and it got them back to .500 for the first time since they stood at 1-1 after Week 2 of the 2019 season.
It was a deeply uneven effort, one where they let the Dolphins hang around way too long for a struggling team coming off a game in London, but also a hard-fought win with a lot of positives. What did we take away from this game, either big picture-wise or in the details?
The Falcons are right where I thought they’d be, albeit later than expected
I had the Falcons finishing this season at 8-9, with a perhaps modestly-improved but not great defense being buoyed by what I thought would be a greatly improved offense. Through the first three weeks of the season, those assumptions all looked stupid, as the Falcons were 1-2 and the offense was mostly listless.
Now that this team has started to figure some things out, particularly on offense, they’re right in line with my early expectations. They’re a .500 football team with some dazzling highlights on offense, a still-too-weak pass rush weighing them down, and a handful of mistakes per game holding them back from bigger and better things. Whether they can keep this up with tougher games ahead remains to be seen, but it’s readily evident that this Falcons offense is going to be fun and keep this team competitive the rest of the way, and that’s what I was hoping to be able to hang my hat on. —Dave Choate
The building blocks are there
While many are going to focus on the Falcons being at .500 and in the thick of playoff contention, I want to focus on what the long-term outlook for this team is looking like. We saw a good bit of it against the Dolphins and man - it’s really encouraging.
Obviously, Kyle Pitts has turned into the monster we hoped he would. I’d argue he’s doing it faster than anyone had any right to expect. Jaylinn Hawkins is turning into a ball hawking safety in year 2 - as a fourth round pick. Ade Ogundeji is developing and his blocked field goal attempt took points off the board. Our offensive line - with guys like Hennessy, Mayfield and Lindstrom - is really coming together. I still think this team is going to finish just outside of the playoffs due to the numerous injuries on defense, but what they’re putting together for the long haul has a tremendous amount of promise. - David Walker
Winning: it’s better than losing
The best takeaway from this week’s Falcons game is that they won. In the Dan Quinn years, goodness love the former coach, the Falcons always lost this game, where a team less good than them outplayed expectations because the Falcons sucked and Atlanta would blow a huge lead. In Oct. 2017, the Falcons blew a huge lead to the Jay Cutler-led Dolphins, who I’m pretty sure smoked cigarettes at the time of his brief stint in Miami. It certainly wasn’t even the most embarrassing Falcons lead blown that year, but it still sucked. Arthur Smith’s Falcons, even when it looked like they’d pooped away the lead, drove it back down and won. The Falcons still have so much to work on, but, in the words of the Boss Baby, cookies are for closers. Smith and his Falcons get the baker’s dozen this week. If this team is full of closers, the future will be bright. Also, Kyle Pitts is the greatest tight end of all time. - Cory Woodroof
Beating bad teams is improvement but real tests remain
I know we have a lot of measures for success. I don’t think it is right to say that any season that fails to end in a Super Bowl victory is a waste. After all, that would mean 31 teams wasted the season. Instead, I really just want to be entertained for three hours on a Sunday. The Falcons have rarely been fun the last few years. The team was full of so much bad football. I don’t think this is a good team, and we may be a few years from it being a really good team, but I have finally really enjoyed watching the Falcons the last month. I don’t know if that will continue against good teams. I’m just happy that I don’t have to hate-watch this team. - Matt Chambers