Another week, another Atlanta Falcons loss that felt entirely too winnable. This time, it was a Minnesota Vikings team led by a quarterback whom the team acquired less than a full week before Sunday’s game. It didn’t matter, though, as Josh Dobbs stepped in for an injured Jaren Hall and led Minnesota to a 31-28 win.
Where do the Falcons go from here? Yes, they are still right in the playoff mix, but nothing they’ve done so far is indicative of a team that will seize the opportunity to emerge in a very weak NFC. There are questions at quarterback, the offensive line has seemingly regressed, and the defense is starting to trend in the wrong direction.
Atlanta has as close to a get-right game as you’ll get in the NFL with a matchup against Arizona next weekend, but the Falcons spring too many leaks in games to feel confident about them against anyone.
Let’s get into some stock trends after another flummoxing defeat.
He’s been the most consistent part of this team all season, and he did everything he could to put the Falcons in position to win on Sunday. Koo made all four of his field goal attempts, including kicks from 43, 52 and 54 yards. Koo’s 20 made field goals this season are tied for the most in the NFL through Week 9, and he’s missed just one attempt all season. After another stellar performance, it’s likely Koo wins a Special Teams Player of the Week award once again.
Quick stat look: Kicker Younghoe Koo has been responsible for 43.4% of the Falcons’ total points this season. He alone has scored 72 of the overall 166 points.— Terrin Waack (@TerrinWaack) November 6, 2023
Koo handled 14 of the Falcons’ season-high 28 points today in Vikings loss. That’s half all on him. pic.twitter.com/dIYkg6tere
Who would have guessed it would be Smith with the Falcons’ longest play from scrimmage at the midway point of the season? He’s been a terrific run-after-catch player for this team, and he proved that once again with his 60-yard touchdown on a quick screen play in the third quarter.
Smith led the way for Atlanta’s receivers on Sunday, catching five passes for 100 yards and the touchdown. Smith is currently second on the team with 422 receiving yards and his two receiving touchdowns are tied for the team-high.
Without Grady Jarrett, Atlanta’s defensive line had a really solid game. Calais Campbell, David Onyemata and Arnold Ebiketie all recorded a sack with benefits. Campbell’s sack earned the Falcons a safety on Josh Dobbs’ first series of the game, and Onyemata and Ebiketie each knocked the ball loose when they reached Dobbs.
Newcomer Kentavius Street recovered Onyemata’s forced fumble, and Lorenzo Carter scooped up Ebiketie forced fumble and returned it all the way down to the 1-yard line. The group also held Minnesota’s running backs to 69 yards on 24 carries, an average of just 2.8 yards. Dobbs’s late-game scrambles certainly hurt, but the defensive line played well enough to win.
At this point, it’s hard to know what exactly Patterson’s role on this team is. He played nine snaps on offense and six on special teams Sunday, and he touched the ball just twice for 3 yards. He did leave the game with an ankle injury but returned in the second half. Patterson is near the end of his career, but with players like Calais Campbell still making an impact it’s easy to wonder if the veteran running back can be a bigger factor.
In Atlanta’s win against Tampa Bay, Patterson looked sharp and gained 56 yards on 10 carries. In every other game this season, he’s carried the ball just four times for 7 yards.
This continues to be a problem for the Falcons, and it killed them on Sunday. The Falcons allowed Dobbs to turn this game into backyard football with numerous missed tackles that let him escape the pocket. Off-script plays felt like the most comfortable ones for Dobbs, which makes sense given his limited playing time.
Atlanta’s second-level defenders missed Dobbs on blitzes, and his ability to extend plays at the end of this game ultimately doomed the Falcons. But as much as you want to give credit to Dobbs, this was an Atlanta problem.
Atlanta’s Run Game
There are too many players involved in this aspect of the offense who are not performing up to the standard they set last season, so once again I’m lumping in a bunch of guys here. The offensive line is not getting the push they generated consistently in 2022, and that was again the case against Minnesota. Now, the Vikings have a stout run defense, but this was a part of Atlanta’s offense that could overpower even the best fronts in the league last season.
Bijan Robinson has now put the ball on the turf in two critical situations that have come back to haunt the Falcons, but we also need to see more than just 13 touches from Atlanta’s first-round pick. Tyler Allgeier looks better late in games, but nothing is coming easily for him on the ground. Given the questions that remain at quarterback, they need to find a way to fix this part of their offense.
Do you have any shoutouts or callouts from Sunday’s game? Let us know in the comments.