The Falcons desperately need a win after starting yet another season 0-2. They’ve faced a rookie QB who can create outside the pocket and the greatest to have ever played the position. They’ll face something a bit different in third year QB Daniel Jones when they travel to New York to face the Giants.
How do they stack up? Let’s take a look.
In the trenches
This may be one of the few times where the Falcons could match up with the opposing offensive line. This Giants OL is not playing well right now. UGA fans will recognize Andrew Thomas at left tackle. The former first rounder has been inconsistent as a pass blocker and pretty poor as a run blocker despite his evident talent.
Left guard Ben Bredeson has been bullied this year as a pass blocker as well, almost to the level of Jalen Mayfield. Center Billy Price was a first round pick with the Bengals who was so bad, he didn’t make it to 4 years with them. His week 2 game was dreadful in relief of Nick Gates. The right side of the line improves just slightly with Will Hernandez and Nate Solder. The loss of Gates was huge and this line could be a liability for this team going forward.
Dante Fowler finally had a good game in week 2 against the Bucs, registering his first sack and generally doing a better job of disrupting the pocket. Grady Jarrett has yet to kick into mid-season form, so this would be a great game for him to do so. Jonathan Bullard continues to be a nice surprise and is one of our highest graded defenders by PFF, even if he’s primarily a bully against the run. When you factor in guys like Steven Means and Ade Ogundeji, this is a decidedly unimpressive unit overall, but one with some potential.
The Falcons don’t really deserve the benefit of the doubt, but the interior of this Giants OL could be something for them to feast on. Jarrett could be poised to have a big game, especially if Billy Price continues to play so poorly. Even so, I can’t give Atlanta a full faith endorsement so we’ll call this a push.
The skill positions
Quarterback Daniel Jones is hard to figure out. His 2019 season looked promising as a rookie, though his propensity to fumble the ball was very troubling. His 2020 was a step back and he’s been inconsistent so far this year, though fairly good against Washington.
Running back Saquon Barkley looks like he’s still getting his legs underneath him after tearing his ACL last September. TE Kyle Rudolph is a reliable receiving threat, but on the wrong side of 30. The receivers are a good group, with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton all being quality options for Jones. This is unit with the potential to score big, but it falls on Jones to become a more reliable and consistent QB. Nothing like getting Atlanta to help you get there, right?
For the Falcons, much will depend on the health of A.J. Terrell. If he plays, they’ll have one of their best young defenders. If not, the secondary could be a major issue. It’s not that the secondary is the worst in the league, but guys like Fabian Moreau, Duron Harmon and Erik Harris have been mostly “meh” to start the season. Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun also need to get things in gear in coverage. There are talented players on this defense, but we may be witnessing the learning curve of picking up the Dean Pees defense and the limitations of that talent.
I do think the Falcons defense will improve as time goes on, and the blitzes should be far more effective this week against a suspect offensive line. From a pure matchup standpoint, though, the Giants get the slight nod here.
Much of this is going to come down to Daniel Jones vs. Dean Pees. If the veteran DC can confuse the Giants offensive line and get to Jones, it could end up being a long afternoon for the young QB. If those blitzes don’t work or the Falcons continue to leave wide-open gaps in the secondary, or give Jones the chance to escape and scramble, there’s enough talent for the Giants to put some serious points on the board. I do think Pees will get to Jones by overwhelming this line, but it won’t be enough to completely shut this unit down. We’ll call this a push.