The Falcons are 0-2 again. You’ll recall that they started the 2021 season off with the exact same record, which may lead you to think this team is more of the same lousy football.
That’s the question we grappled with today. You can only tell so much about an NFL team after two weeks, and we don’t necessarily have a good feel for what the Falcons will do going forward after a pair of wild efforts against the Saints and Rams. We’re going to keep it fairly straightforward in light of that and ask this: Are these Falcons better than they were through the first two weeks of last season?
After you’ve heard from our roundtable, please share your thoughts in the comments!
Last year’s Falcons barely even were present on the field in a Week 1 loss to the Eagles, one where they were absolutely thumped. They managed a quarter or so of solid football against the Buccaneers, but after two weeks, they were sitting at a dismal 0-2 having been outscored 80-28. The defense was an absolute tire fire, the offense was largely listless, and
In contrast, these Falcons are a bit of a confusing mess, but they’re competent. Atlanta’s lost their two opening games by a combined score of 58-53, have managed multiple quarters of quality football, and were in both games until very near the end. They look very much like the team-in-progress we thought we were getting heading into 2022, rather than one that had only a dim hope of actually hanging tough with contenders, and that’s some sort of progress. -Dave Choate
Probably but this team still isn’t good
The difference between the 2021 Falcons and the 2022 Falcons is like finding food during a road trip in the middle of nowhere. Ultimately, you aren’t getting what you want, and you’re trying to weigh getting sandwich at a gas station/Blimpie combo or a Whopper at a dilapidated Burger King. Are the 2022 Falcons less likely to give you food poisoning? Probably! Would you voluntarily eat this outside of your current situation? Absolutely not!
In 2021, the Falcons were entering a tough spot before Julio Jones forced his way out and Calvin Ridley left the team. The team was short on so many positions that a 7-10 record was nearly a miracle. In 2022, the Falcons were entering a tough spot before the Matt Ryan/Deshaun Watson debacle. The result is starting Marcus Mariota, who has been confirming he is indeed a backup. I think you can, in a glass half-full perspective, say the lines look improved and the team, overall, has some better depth than last year.
With that said, the team is still bad. While I want to believe I’m seeing competent coaching shining through, or young players starting to contribute, I think I’m actually trying to talk myself into a room-temperature burger from McDonald’s dollar menu hundreds of miles from any other sign of civilization. — Matt Chambers
Yes, but they are playing a totally different game
We knew this Falcons team would look a lot different in 2022 than in 2021, but we didn’t know how exactly that would manifest itself on the field. So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Yes, the Falcons are still 0-2, but the actual context of the games has been eye-opening.
What the Falcons are searching for right now is consistency, but there aren’t the glaring issues that we saw from the jump last season. Atlanta’s offensive line has been much improved from last season, benefiting from the switch to a more diverse running attack in which the quarterback is involved.
Also, Atlanta has a few different pass catchers that I really like. Drake London has truly emerged through two games, and that’s exactly what the Falcons needed to keep this turnaround right on track. Khadarel Hodge has been an excellent third option for this offense, and Olamide Zaccheaus is around the make the splash plays when needed. We’re still waiting for Kyle Pitts to get going, but that’s coming. Don’t worry.
Defensively, I think it’s going to take us a little bit more time to get a feel for this unit. However, I feel comfortable in saying that this group certainly isn’t worse than it was last year, despite A.J. Terrell getting off to a slow start this season. I still think this is a 6-7 win group, but, as Steve Wyche told me before the year started, this team is going to leave other teams hoping they won’t see them in 2023. — Will McFadden
Yes, at least they’re competitive
Is this 0-2 Falcons team better than the 2021 0-2 Falcons team? Absolutely. But, that wouldn’t be very hard to accomplish, because the 2021 Falcons of the first two weeks were probably the worst team in the NFL. Atlanta’s point differential in two losses this season is a pretty competitive -5—really not bad at all given that Atlanta has played two projected playoff teams. In 2021? It was -49. That’s right: the Falcons were outscored by nearly 50 points in just two games to open the 2021 season.
In that context, it’s obvious this year’s team is a lot more competitive against teams that are actually good. In a land where things go in a somewhat normal fashion for Atlanta, this team is almost certainly 1-1 as they really shouldn’t have blown that 16-point lead to the Saints. As it stands, the Falcons have two early losses under their belt, but neither has been anything close to the blowouts they sustained last year. The first three quarters against New Orleans were legitimately good, and I admire the fight the team showed to claw their way back into contention against the defending Super Bowl champions.
We’ll learn a lot about the Falcons this week, as there will be no excuses for losing to a Seahawks team that possesses one of the few rosters that may actually be worse than Atlanta’s from top to bottom. — Kevin Knight