Newcomer Jessie Bates III introduced himself to the Falcons faithful in mighty fine fashion, snagging two interceptions and forcing a fumble in his debut. Adding some oomph to the secondary was a priority for Atlanta in the offseason, and finally with cap cash in hand they made a splash with Bates.
In return, he made a splash in his first appearance in red-and-black. Bates was the MVP from the game, hands down, and looked every bit worthy of the investment Atlanta placed in him during free agency.
If there was ever a question that running back Tyler Allgeier would still play a prominent role in Atlanta’s rushing attack, that notion was dispelled clearly on Sunday. Allgeier took advantage of his 15 carries, tallying 75 yards and two touchdowns. He looked every bit the power back he did all last season, snapping off a couple of north-south runs for double digits.
And Bijan Robinson? He averaged 5.6 yards a carry, and found the end zone for the first time in his professional career courtesy of a swing pass by quarterback Desmond Ridder. His finish on that play ensured the touchdown, as he shook three defenders to dart across the goal line.
There was never a reason to be concerned about the state of the Falcons’ ground game, but now there’s certainly a reason for other teams to fear it. With Robinson and Allgeier carrying the bulk of the load, Atlanta appears to have one of the top rushing tandems in the league.
Failure to Launch
While the Falcons’ first opening win in five seasons is worthy of celebration, this game left plenty of questions on the table heading into Week 2 — and they mainly involve the passing game. Desmond Ridder finished with a 15/18/115 yard/1 touchdown line, worthy of the ‘efficient’ euphemism.
Kyle Pitts was nowhere to be found in the first half, and we’re still trying to locate Drake London. Each finished with three and one target, respectively. To Ridder’s credit, the ball he laced to Pitts late in the game was a beauty, but the lack of consistent downfield passing is going to continue to be a concern until it isn’t.
NFL teams adapt very quickly, and when it becomes apparent to other teams that Pitts and London no longer warrant attention defensively, they’ll begin to stack the box and treat the Falcons as a one-dimensional offense.
Adjustments should be made ahead of Green Bay on Sunday.