The Atlanta Falcons were a team that some considered to be a Super Bowl contender at the start of the year. After 4 weeks, the Falcons sit at 1-3, and face a very tough Steelers team at Heinz field. So are the Falcons legitimately in trouble, or is it just a rough start? Let’s find out.
It’s no doubt that the Falcons have been screwed over by the injuries. The Falcons lost Deion Jones and Keanu Neal week 1. Both players missing time has killed the Falcons. Falcons have been missing the leadership Neal brings. The Falcons defense calls a lot of cover 3. Neal is usually the middle deep safety when the Falcons call that. Obviously with him missing, throwing down the middle of the field will be more frequent. Opposing offenses have exactly done that. Recently, the Bengals did that to them. In the 1st quarter, Tyler Eifert scored on a seam route that was the roaming free safeties responsibility. In the 2nd quarter, the Bengals basically did the same thing, except with John Ross. Teams have frequently hurt them down the middle, and will continue to as the season goes on.
Deion Jones is someone who the Falcons have missed. They are hoping he’ll come back sometime this season. Unsurprisingly, the Falcons run defense fell off a bit when he went down. Jones is also a great coverage linebacker, so the Falcons 3rd dawn defense has struggled a bit more as well. If the Falcons can get him back, he’ll boost the desperate defense. If not, we might keep seeing shoot out games from the Falcons.
Devontae Freeman is a player that has missed a couple of weeks for the Falcons. Him missing has hurt their run game a little, hit the offense didn’t really take a step back. He should be back against the Steelers.
Red zone struggles:
Falcons fans have mixed feeling about Sarkisian, but there is one thing they can all agree on: Sarkisian struggles in the red zone. Julio not getting many touchdowns have become a meme around the NFL fan base, but that’s because of poor execution of calling the play. Often times, his play calling is predictable. Julio Jone only seems to run fades. They often go in a “5 wide” set, and that makes things awfully predictable for the defense. They have had a lot of trouble running inside the 5. This all started with Sarkisian taking over. It hurt them last year, and it’s been killing them this year. It’s a problem that the Falcons must address.
Talent on the Offense:
Th Falcons talent on the offensive side of the ball is insane. Despite the lack of touchdowns, Julio Jones is a top 3 wide receiver. Calvin Ridley is so far having the best offensive rookie season. He already had 6 touchdowns. They have an above average offensive line, who make holes for a great running back tandem of Devontae Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Matt Ryan is a really good quarterback, and has led the team well. Matt Ryan has played great. It’s not his fault that the Falcons lose when they score over 30. Untimely, the Falcons were 2 plays away from being 3-1. If they update of scored in the final seconds against the eagles inside the 10, they could have won. If they didn’t let the Bengals score a game winning touchdown inside of 10 seconds, they could have one. Falcons have been that close, but just can’t finish.
Falcons have had a start of the season that has gone wrong in many ways. However, their schedule is looking up. Their next 6 games include: Steelers, Buccaneers, Giants, Redskins, Browns, and Cowboys. They could win all 6 of their games. Realistically, they can probably win 4, and that should be the goal. If they can get back up to 5-5, then they still have a chance. But anything less, then odds of them making the playoffs will be extremely difficult.