Atlanta Falcons Offense Wakes Up In Home Win Over Carolina

Written By Brian Pohl

Atlanta, GA- The Atlanta Falcons offense has awoken as they defeated the Carolina Panthers 31-24 in their home opener for their first win of the 2018 NFL season.


Following their 18-12 loss last week to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, questions remained about whether or not the Falcons offense could solve their red zone issues that had arisen since the hiring of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.


Atlanta’s offense answered in a big way, going a perfect four for four in the red zone, scoring touchdowns in every trip.


Falcons head coach Dan Quinn talked about the team’s frustration after last week’s performance in the red zone saying, “This week’s preparation, it wasn’t in practice, we were pissed as a team that we didn’t perform like we thought we could.”


Coach Quinn also talked about how pleased he was with today’s performance saying, “I was pleased to see we had balance in our run game and play-action that goes with that so to get attempts in the run I think were significant.”


Quarterback Matt Ryan looked more like the version of himself that fans are used to seeing, completing 23 of his 28 passes for 272-yards, throwing for two touchdowns, and adding two more scores on the ground. This was the first time in Ryan’s career that he scored more than one rushing touchdown in a game,


Ryan did a great job of spreading the ball around, completing passes to eight different receivers. Julio Jones led the way with five catches for 64-yards. It was a quiet day for the star wideout, but the veteran made plays when called upon and continues to impress after not playing a snap in the preseason.


Rookie receiver Calvin Ridley was impressive in his home debut. The first-round pick out of the University of Alabama caught four passes for 64-yards and scored his first career touchdown in one of the trips to the red zone. Ridley was particularly great in open space, as he seemed to hit an extra gear after each catch and showed a great ability to make defenders miss. If the rookie can have this level of play consistently, the Falcons will have another great weapon in their offense that is loaded with talent.


At running back, the Falcons were without starter Devonta Freeman, which meant Tevin Coleman would receive the bulk of the carries. Like receiver Calvin Ridley, Coleman showed great ability with the ball in open space, making some great cuts that buckled the knees of several Panthers defenders. Coleman totaled 16 rushes on the ground for 106-yards and also added four receptions for 18-yards.


This was a great performance by the Falcons offense, who answered a lot of questions early on in the season. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian made great use of play-action plays and rollouts to provide deception, and his players excelled in their execution. The next step will be to deliver performances like this on a consistent basis and will have the chance to do so next week against hated rival New Orleans Saints.


Defensively, the Falcons had the difficult challenge of replacing two Pro Bowlers due to injuries suffered last week. Overall, they did well enough to hold off a final push from Carolina, who had an opportunity to tie the game on the final play.


Particularly susceptible through the air, the Falcons defense allowed Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to throw for 335-yards and three touchdowns. This will need to be cleaned up in the coming weeks, but coach Quinn and his team are confident they will be able to do so as they are still working on replacing talented players in safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones.


Atlanta was, however, able to create a big turnover on Newton, who had a pass ricochet off a receiver and into the hands of safety Ricardo Allen, who would return it 26-yards and spark a drive for the Falcons offense. The defense had several opportunities to pick off Newton but made enough plays when it counted to secure the victory.


In last week’s loss, the Falcons committed 15 penalties for 135-yards. This was a major point of emphasis for coach Quinn and his staff, and the team answered this week by only committing two penalties for 26-yards.


With that said, however, one of the penalties was a very costly one, as safety Damontae Kazee, who was to get the majority of playing time in replacing Keanu Neal, committed a careless helmet to helmet penalty, launching himself at Cam Newton and getting ejected from the game. Coach Quinn said he had not had the chance to look at the replay of the penalty, but said that Kazee was very disappointed with himself when he reached the sideline.


Overall, this was a solid performance from the Falcons that needed to bounce back in a big way after their opening week loss. If Atlanta can play like this consistently, they will have a great shot to win the NFC South division and another run at the playoffs.


Next, the Falcons have another big home game, as they face off against NFC South division rival in the New Orleans Saints.

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