Week 1: The Atlanta Falcons Didn’t Show Up vs. the Vikings
The Falcons Lost 28-12. Sunday was a Disaster for Atlanta.
Jake Matthews missed a major block on the first snap of the game causing Matt Ryan to be sacked for an 8-yard loss to start the 2019 season. Three plays later, the Vikings blocked a punt to set their offense up in perfect position. The very next possession, Matt Ryan, threw into coverage and the Vikings intercepted the pass. Minnesota was up 14-0 before the halfway mark through the first quarter. This foreshadowed how the rest of week one would go for the Falcons. Let’s look at each unit of the team.
Last year, the Falcons were a top 10 offense. If anyone watched Sunday’s game, this wouldn’t be evident. Dirk Koetter’s offense struggled to gain any rhythm against a strong Vikings defense. When the Falcons finally got a drive going in the third quarter and were three yards from scoring, Matt Ryan threw an interception.
The offensive scheme was questionable from the start. The Falcons have Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley. Why did Atlanta not take any deep shots down the field? Most of the passing plays were thrown less than ten yards and the one time Ryan did go deep, he overthrew Julio badly. Speaking of Julio, what is the deal with him being on the sideline on many 2nd and 3rd down plays?
Another area the Falcons may look at in the coming weeks is the use of Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith. Freeman rushed for 19 yards on eight attempts. Ito Smith had six carries for 31 yards. Freeman’s rushing style is very physical; however, this style also brings a higher chance for fumbles (which happened on Sunday).
Overall, the offense looked terrible. Dirk Koetter called questionable plays, Devonta Freeman struggled to rush for any yardage, the offensive line got pummeled, Matt Ryan threw bad passes, and Julio Jones wasn’t a factor.
Does anyone remember when Dan Quinn said he would be taking over the defensive play-calling? Everyone in Atlanta got excited because Quinn was the defensive coordinator during the prime of the Seattle Seahawks and everyone remembers how dominant that defense was. However, on Sunday, the Falcons defense struggled mightily. Fans in Atlanta are sweating after watching the Vikings run all over Quinn’s defense.
When a team loses 28-12, many would be shocked to know the winning team had less than 100 yards of passing. That being said, the Vikings had over 170 yards rushing. From the start of the game, the Falcons defensive line was dominated. This allowed Dalvin Cook to rush around the edges and have many rushes over ten yards. Cook ended the day with 111 yards and 2 TD’s.
One could argue that 14 points scored by the Vikings wasn’t just because of the Atlanta defense. The blocked punt to start the game gave the Vikings a short field and then a Matt Ryan interception on the very next possession gave Minnesota another short field. Regardless of how one wants to analyze the game, the defense will have to hold opponents to less than 170 yards of rushing per game if they want any chance of winning.
Conclusion: The Whole Team MUST Get Better
Dan Quinn must take responsibility for this game. The team looked sloppy and unprepared to start the season. Some may blame the lack of starters playing in the preseason. Some may blame Julio and the contract situation. The bottom line is: Dan Quinn’s team wasn’t ready for the Vikings and it was on full display. He must take responsibility and get the team in shape before a critical week two matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles on national television.