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Falcons vs. Giants: Hat tips & head-scratchers

A messy win is still a win, but there’s clearly room for improvement.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons finagled a wacky win against a hapless Giants team to avoid going 0-3 to start the season. That’s good, but the offense is an abject mess at the moment.

Hat tips

Grady Jarrett’s sack Giants first drive

Grady Jarrett often gets labeled as a “poor man’s Aaron Donald,” and that’s always bothered me a bit. It feels a bit like a pejorative. Grady Jarrett is Grady Jarrett, and he does very good things on a football field as Grady Jarrett.

In recent years he’s established himself as one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL, and his swim move to drop Daniel Jones 11 yards behind the line of scrimmage on the Giants’ opening drive is why. He has burst and impeccable technique, and that play is why he’s such a valued member of Atlanta’s defensive front.

It also forced a field goal attempt later in the drive, and held the Giants to three in a game where points were hard to come by.

Olamide Zaccheaus shows his mettle

Atlanta was without wide receiver Russell Gage in this one, moving WR Olamide Zaccheaus into starting duties in his stead. He did not disappoint.

Zaccheaus snared a 14-yard first-down pass from Matt Ryan on the Falcons’ final drive of the half, taking a shot upstairs from Xavier McKinney in the process.

McKinney was flagged for a personal foul on the play.

The reception kept the chains moving in what would ultimately turn into a touchdown reception by ... Olamide Zaccheaus. Strong work in relief.

Isaiah Oliver forces the fumble

Cornerback Isaiah Oliver has had a strong start to the 2021 NFL season in his new role, and it continued on Sunday against the Giants. The feather in his cap in that one? Forcing a fumble against Evan Engram after the Falcons scored a touchdown on the previous drive. He recovered the loose ball, as well.

Yes, Matt Ryan would fumble on the ensuing drive, but it prevented the Giants from increasing the scoreline heading into halftime. E

Dante Fowler potentially seals it

Fowler was our player of the week for a reason. He started his afternoon with a tipped pass early in the game, seemingly saved it in the fourth quarter with the score tied and the Giants threatening.

Dante Fowler beat the right tackle, was held, and then forced the fumble against Daniel Jones, dropping him nine yards in the process. Jones recovered the ball, but it was enough to push the Giants out of field goal range.

These types of finishes are ones that the Falcons have lost in recent years, so we were all preparing for that as New York marched down the field.

Dante Fowler had other ideas.

Head-scratchers

Wildcat on 3rd and 1

If you watched Atlanta’s offense yesterday, you saw a confused, disjointed unit. It’s evident that there’s much work to be done on that side of the ball, but dialing up wacky wildcat plays on 3rd & 1 certainly ain’t it at this current juncture.

Arthur Smith got a bit cute on the opening offensive drive, bringing in backup quarterback Feleipe Franks under center and splitting Matt Ryan out wide. They ran a zone read to running back Cordarrelle Patterson, fooling no one, and he was stuffed for no gain.

Weird.

Tight end usage

So where was Kyle Pitts for the majority of this one? Where was Hayden Hurst? We’re three games in and it’s inexplicable why these two don’t currently have a prominent role on offense.

Pitts proved why the Falcons drafted him overall with his performance on Atlanta’s game-winning drive. Get him on the dang field as a receiver.