The Falcons earned their first win of the season on Sunday, beating the Seattle Seahawks on the road 27-23. It was a pretty solid performance all around and featured some clutch moments from key players.
However, it wasn’t all perfect, and there are some areas to still clean up. Coming back home with a win is much better than the alternative, though, and the Falcons have avoided the dreaded 0-3 start. The path ahead remains difficult, but let’s take a moment to recognize the good and bad from Atlanta’s first victory.
Man, this offense really hums when Patterson is running the ball the way he did on Sunday. In 2022, Patterson has taken his game as a running back to an entirely different level. He set a new career high with 141 rushing yards, which came on 17 carries and included a 17-yard touchdown and a 40-yard explosive play.
Between the tackles, Patterson looks decisive and determined, making him a very difficult player to corral. Atlanta rested its starting running back throughout the summer, and that decision has paid off handsomely so far, as Patterson is second in the league in rushing yards right now.
There’s an interesting parallel that can be made between Grant and fellow defensive back Isaiah Oliver. Oliver was a fairly big question mark coming into the training camp in 2021, but he enjoyed some real early success last season and was one of the bright spots for the defense before his season-ending injury. Grant, a second-round pick like Oliver, was a player many fans were eager to see more of after he was mostly relegated to special teams as a rookie.
Like Oliver last year, Grant has been an early defensive standout and has given the fans plenty to get excited about. He finished third on the team with seven tackles against Seattle, but it was his game-winning interception that earns him this spot.
Finally. It was clear from the very first play that the Falcons were going to make a bit more of a concerted effort to get the ball into the hands of one of the most talented tight ends in the NFL. That effort resulted in five catches on eight targets for 87 yards.
While Pitts still has not reached the end zone this season – keeping his career touchdown total at one – he was a much more dangerous weapon in the passing game for Atlanta on Sunday. Let’s hope that’s a sign of more to come.
I’m not going to make a habit of repeating the same players in these spots throughout the season, but Edwards is on this list for the second straight week. He was among the Falcons’ inactive players on Sunday, which could potentially relate to the specific game plan, yet it’s certainly not a great sign for the former third-round pick.
Edwards has tantalizing ability, but he’s not yet established himself in Atlanta. Instead, he’s gone from starting in Week 1 to not playing in Week 3. There’s still plenty of time for Edwards to reverse that trend, but it’s not been smooth sailing thus far.
It wasn’t a banner day for the secondary, as the unit allowed 308 yards to a Seahawks offense that had just 357 combined passing yards through the first two games. Hayward, in particular, gave up a couple of big plays, which has become a troubling trend so far this season. The veteran deserves a little time to get back on track because he’s proven to be a great player throughout his career.
However, since the fourth quarter of the Saints game, Atlanta has given up some very easy plays through the air. Hayward is getting singled out in this instance because of some of the specific lapses that he had, but the overall secondary has underwhelmed slightly, which was not what we hoped for.
Sunday’s game had to be momentarily paused because of some drone activity over the stadium, which is weird because the Falcons don’t even play the Patriots this season. However, it did lead to a pretty great quote from Arthur Smith after the game, and the digital team also had a bit of fun. Coming off of a win, I’m feeling generous, so this final spot goes to the drones.
“Yeah, all they told us was a drone, and I’ve probably read too many CIA fiction thrillers, maybe too many Brad Thor books,” Smith said. “So, I’m looking up, and they’re telling me to get over to the sideline, there’s a drone. Some interesting thoughts go through your head when they told us to go to the bench, but luckily nothing happened.”