Atlanta Falcons Starters Shine in Defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs

Atlanta Falcons Calvin Ridley (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons Calvin Ridley (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Falcons First and Second teams bounced back in a major way against the Kansas City Chiefs Friday night, despite enduring a 14-28 defeat.

There has been some concern around local circles of fans and media concerning the Atlanta Falcons offense, after the team was shutout 17-0 by the New York Jets last week. Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian received the brunt of the criticism. Our Justin Butler detailed the pressure on Coach Sark in his latest article.

The noise was quieted  for a moment as the Atlanta Falcons offense was very impressive in the 1st half. Early it appeared the Falcons offense was headed for another three and out. The Falcons went play action on the game’s 1st play, and Matt Ryan’s slant pass was broken up by Kyle Fuller. On Second down, Tevin Coleman was stuffed running off right tackle for a loss of one yard. The Falcons were facing third and long on the opening drive for the for the 2nd consecutive week.

All of a sudden, the Atlanta Falcons offense clicked into high gear. Matt Ryan connected with TE Austin Hooper for a 29 yard gain, to move the chains. Running Back Tevin Coleman followed by ripping off back to back 15 yard runs. The cutback lane for the 2nd run, was provided by a vicious pancake block by free agent signing Brandon Fusco. After a three yard run by Ito Smith, Matt Ryan went back to play action and hit Austin Hopper underneath, coming across the formation. Hooper leaped over a defender at the goaline for the Atlanta Falcons 1st score of the Pre-season! The drive stretched 6 plays and gained 65 yards.

The Atlanta Falcons next drive was nearly as impressive. It spanned 7 plays for a total of 69 yards. Matt Ryan got that dive off to a good start with a 16 yard strike to Marvin Hall on a slant route. The key play on the dive was a 39 yard hookup from Ryan to 1st Round Pick Calvin Ridley. Ryan made a beautiful deep throw outside of the right hash mark, on a great route by Ridley to create the big gain. Unfortunately the drive ended when the Dirty Birds turned the ball over on downs at the KC 20 yard line.

I personally would have liked Sarkisian to call a run to the right side, behind Brandon Fusco and Ryan Schrader. Picking up 1st down on short yardage runs, has long been an achilles heel of the Atlanta Falcons zone blocking scheme. It would have been nice to see if the addition of Fusco is the answer to those woes. Instead Sark elected to call a quick slant out of the shotgun to Calvin Ridley. Such a play with no play action, doesn’t even provide a threat of the run in a short yardage situation.

The Atlanta Falcons 1st team Defense was equally as impressive. They forced a 3 and out on the Chief’s initial drive. The Birds defense did bend on drive number two, allowing a 13 play and 73 yard drive. The key play was a 14 yard pass from Maholmes to TE Travis Kelce on 3rd and 11. Kelce beat Desmond Trufant on the play. The defense bowed up and held KC to just a field goal however.

The Atlanta Falcons 2nd team offense had a similar experience to the 1st team. Backup Quarterback Matt Schaub lead the squad through a 15 play 75 yard drive that culminated in a 7 yard to pass to Calvin Ridley. On their next drive, the Dirty Bird’s 2nd unit moved the ball down to the KC 8 yard line following he Damontae Kazee interception. This time when facing 4th down and short, Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian called a run behind Right Guard Wes Switzer. The result was Rookie 4th Round pick Ito Smith, being stopped just short of the 1st down.

The Chiefs played their starters the entire 1st half, and the Atlanta Falcons 2nd team D did a great job vs Kansas City as well. Defensive back Damontae Kazee picked off KC QB Patrick Mahomes on the next drive. As a whole the Dirty Bird Defense stymied the Chiefs Running Backs. They allowed only 53 yards on 21 carries. That’s a microscopic 2.52 yards per carry!

The only real mistake by the defense in the 1st half, was a major one. Three Falcons defenders allowed WR, and Coffee County, GA native, Tyreek Hill to run by them for a 69 yard TD bomb. The strike came with only seventeen seconds left in the 1st half. Not much went right for the Atlanta Falcons after that play.

Kansas City’s reserves dominated the Atlanta Falcons’ third and fourth units. QB Chad Henne, an 11 year veteran, carved up the Bird backups for a long TD drive. Veteran Matt McGloin also lead a FG scoring drive. Kurt Benkert’s overthrown pass was returned for a pick six by former Iowa LB Ben Nieman, in the 4th quarter. Matt McGloin passed to Byron Pringle for a 2 point conversion to end the scoring for the night.

Notable performances

Matt Ryan was very sharp going 5/7 for 90 yards and a TD. Calvin Ridley showed a glance at why he was 1st round pick, catching three passes for 39 yards and a TD. He also ran the games opening kickoff for a 34 yard return. Tevin Coleman was in mid-season form getting 35 yards on just 5 totes. Austin Hooper bounced back nicely from last week’s poor showing catching two passes for 33 yards and TD. Brian Poole and Damontae Kazee both played aggressive and very well for the Falcons defense. In total it was a great showing for the Falcons 1st and 2nd units. Any time you can have the lead in the Preseason when your starters leave the game, it counts as a victory in my book.


Rookie 4th Round Pick Ito Smith, saw a lot of action and didn’t fare very well. He only managed to grind out 34 yards in 13 carries. That’s a meager 2.6 yards per carry. He couldn’t come down with his only target as a receiver. He also bobbled both kick return opportunities he was given. He needs to show some signs soon, as the Atlanta Falcons can ill afford another Brian Hill style RB draft bust.

WR Julio Jones, RB Devonta Freeman, MLB Deion Jones, & K Matt Bryant all missed the game due to minor injuries. The Falcons next contest is this Saturday night, in Jacksonville. The Atlanta Falcons should be itching to take on CB Jalen Ramsey. less than 2 weeks after he called QB Matt Ryan overrated in an interview with GQ magazine. There are certain to be some fireworks there. Meanwhile, continue to log into ATL All Day for all of the latest news and best analysis on all of you favorite Atlanta Sports Squads!