The Atlanta Falcons’ performance in a Week 1 loss to Seattle was all too familiar.
It’s pretty much the same old story for the Atlanta Falcons. After raising fan’s hopes with new uniforms and a fresh new look, it is apparent that not much has changed based on the product we saw on the field in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks.
One could argue that the Atlanta Falcons did not have any OTAs, training camp, preseason or scrimmages in the offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But neither did every other team in the NFL. It didn’t look like a level playing field inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday, though.
Sunday’s 38-25 loss to a far superior Seahawks team once again exposed this team’s major weaknesses — lack of offensive production, offensive playcalling and the secondary.
The Falcons recorded three sacks in the first half and the improvement of the pass rush was palpable and evident. Last season, the Falcons recorded seven sacks in the first eight weeks of the season.
Takk McKinley really stood out on defense. The slimmed-down and bulked-up defensive end looked like a completely different player. He sacked Russell Wilson on Seattle’s first offensive play from scrimmage. He was a force all day with one sack, six quarterback hits and five quarterback pressures.
The always reliable and Pro-Bowl defensive tackle, Grady Jarrett, was his usual disruptive self as he recorded 1.5 sacks and three tackles for a loss. Dante Fowler was stout against the run and recorded a half-sack. The defensive line was not the issue in this game. Neither was the linebacking corps.
The tackling by the first and second levels of the defense was fairly crisp all day for the most part. It’s the third level of the defense that leaves plenty to be desired. Because the defensive line sustained pressure and heat on Wilson all day, they needed help from the secondary, which did not happen.
The same issues that plagued the Atlanta Falcons last year appear to remain.
Wilson pretty much torched the Falcons secondary with a near-perfect day and only had four incompletions all game. He also had four touchdown passes against a secondary that looked lost and had too many blown coverages, as usual. Isaiah Oliver, Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal were virtual no-shows and were pretty much invisible all day.
The coverage schemes in the secondary must absolutely be better. Just like in the first half of last season, the Falcons cornerback played too far off in zone coverage. This resulted in way too many open Seattle receivers with nothing but open field in front of them. These adjustments should have been made at halftime at the latest and must be corrected for Week 2.
The offensive play-calling was still suspect at best. With all of the firepower the Falcons have on offense, they need to be attacking and aggressive from the get-go. There is no creativity at all in Dirk Koetter’s play-calling. As usual, he is way too conservative and way too predictable.
Specifically, his short-yardage run situations from the shotgun formation are way too predictable. Jamal Adams was feasting on the Falcons offense all day and read almost everything with ease. On a pathetic note, Falcons went 0-for-4 on fourth down conversions all day. Three of those unsuccessful conversions were on offense and one on a fumbled fake punt on special teams.
The Atlanta Falcons coaching staff was outcoached, outclassed and again failed to make the necessary in-game and halftime adjustments. In all three phases of the game, the coaching staff failed and contributed in a major way to the disappointing home-opening loss.
There was no excuse for the Falcons to not take advantage of a road-weary Seattle team traveling 3,000 miles cross country to open the season.
The offensive play-calling needs to be much more up-tempo and fast-paced with Matt Ryan having the authorization on his own to run the no-huddle. This is when he is at his best, along with the entire offense. There were no plays for Todd Gurley as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. This is when he is at his best in open space.
Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley‘s numbers need to be called from the opening possession, specifically getting them involved early by stretching the field. They both had a great game but their stats were inflated in the second half after falling so far behind.
Things need to improve and quickly for the Atlanta Falcons. We shall see what adjustments they make in week two and what the gameplan entails. One thing is for certain, Sunday’s frustrating loss felt very much like the first half of last season with completely inept coaching in all three phases. It is fair to say that not much has changed only after the first week.