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By: William McFadden
Let’s keep this Victory Monday going with this week’s stock up and stock down,
The Atlanta Falcons are 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 2017, and there are many newcomers who played key roles in making that happen.
In Week 1, it was Jessie Bates III who turned the tide on the Carolina Panthers. Against Green Bay, rookie running Bijan Robinson was the one spurring the Falcons onward. I’ll touch on Robinson more in a bit, but it’s a very positive sign that different players have stepped up at different times.
Neither win has been flawless, however. This is the NFL, after all, and each game is going to lead to a fair amount of nail-biting, win or lose. But it’s always better to figure out those flaws with two wins in hand.
Cheeseheads pair great with whine, don’t you think @oviemughelli34? We hit the mics after Bijan Robinson and the Falcons sent Green Bay Packing and moved to 2-0. Ridder, Robinson, Defense – it’s all here.
— Will McFadden (@willmcfadden) September 18, 2023
Let’s keep this Victory Monday going with this week’s stock up and stock down.
Robinson was electric nearly every time he touched the ball. The eighth-overall pick led the Falcons with 124 yards on 19 carries – an average of 6.5 yards – and caught four passes for 48 yards. His influence on this offense is already stressing defenses, and Robinson requires multiple defenders to bring him down on virtually every play. Robinson was awarded the game ball for his performance, and it seems highly unlikely it will be his last.
“We just kept going downhill and tried to get as many yards as we could,” Robinson said after the game. “In the fourth quarter, you felt them start to back off and not come as hard as they did in the first half.”
EVERY Bijan Robinson snap from his 178 yard day
“Lord knows you can’t stop this man”#DirtyBirds pic.twitter.com/WKhlRX2IKb
— (@ATLFalconsMuse) September 18, 2023
After recording no catches in the season-opener, London emerged as Desmond Ridder’s favorite target on Sunday despite drawing a very tough matchup against Jaire Alexander. London showed why he, too, was a highly touted draft pick, catching six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons used London in a variety of ways, on quick screens, on complex route designs and, of course, as a key blocker on the edge. Atlanta’s receivers are certainly a specific flavor, but London has more to his game that should emerge throughout the year. Like this entire offense, he’s a player who can evolve.
I came very close to giving Terrell a nod here in the season opener, and he continued his high level of play against a short-handed Packers team. Terrell broke up two passes and was solid in coverage throughout the afternoon – first play of the game, aside. After a slight step back in 2022, Terrell is off to a great start this fall. Jerry Gray, the team’s assistant head coach/defense, has drawn incredible play out of high-level corners like Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander, and Terrell looks to be next in that group.
The days when all of the uber-talented playmakers on Atlanta’s offense have productive outings will likely be few and far between, and Pitts was the odd man out on Sunday. He drew five targets but only caught two passes for 15 yards. Despite throwing the ball 32 times, this offense doesn’t yet look like it will sustain multiple high-performing receiving threats.
Pitts’ talent is still apparent to anyone who watches him, but the impact he has on this offense involves a bit more nuance and relies on looking beyond the box score. Still, for a top-5 pick with this blend of rare athleticism, he should be compiling more stats.
It’s still only his second season, but Malone has yet to make a real impact on this team. The edge rusher has not logged a snap on defense this year, but he’s been a core special teamer. That’s a big role for a team that values that facet of the game as highly as Atlanta does, but it may require a slight adjustment in terms of our expectations for Malone.
As a third-round pick, if he becomes the type of mainstay special teams player who invokes continuity, then that’s not a bad outcome, necessarily.
Red Zone Offense
For a team as multiple and varied offensively as the Falcons are, success should come a bit more easily in the red zone. Of course, you have to give credit to the Packers, because they have a great defense that plays smart with their backs against the wall. Atlanta converted only two of its five red-zone opportunities and couldn’t punch it in on three tries from the 1-yard line. The Falcons are 5-of-8 on the season inside of the red zone, so I’m not raising the alarms or anything here, but to beat good teams Atlanta will need to come away with 6 points near the goal line.
“We have to clean up, week two and that’s why I’m so glad to be a part of this group we’re never going to feel like we arrived, we’re going to keep fighting,“ Jonnu Smith said of the red-zone troubles.
Originally posted on The Falcoholic – All Posts