Atlanta Falcons Lack of Offensive Rhythm Dooms Them Against Eagles
Atlanta Falcons beat reporter D. Orlando Ledbetter put out a tweet during the game that signifies the current state of the Falcons. Hopefully, the process of Rome’s construction was not as hard to watch as the Falcons first game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles controlled their debut with coach Nick Sirianni, winning 32-6 against the Falcons. One of the questions raised before this game was how rusty the Falcons offense would look after limited preseason work. The lack of production and collection of penalties throughout answers that with a resounding very rusty. The Atlanta Falcons and their lack of offensive rhythm completely doomed their chances against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Had to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a day…..
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) September 12, 2021
Lack of Offensive Rhythm Dooms Falcons vs. Eagles
Offensive Line Play
After the script ran out on the first couple of drives, Ryan and company were out of sync. Especially on the offensive line. There were questions about the line, especially about the rookie Jalen Mayfield, as he went up against this stout Eagles D-Line. Mayfield struggled to keep defensive tackle Javon Hargrave from wreaking havoc throughout the game. Hargrave ended with nine total tackles (six solos), two sacks, and three hits on Matt Ryan.
Ryan threw for 21/35 for 164 yards, amassing an abysmal 4.7 yards per attempt on the day. Ryan was sacked three times and hit nine times throughout the day. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon made sure that the Falcons did not have any explosive plays. Philadelphia was able to send only four pass rushers and get adequate to substantial pressure on Ryan. With the Eagles dropping seven, they kept both Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts out of one-on-one matchups.
The run game for the Falcons started on fire with 86 yards in the first quarter. After that, they only conjured up 38 more yards for the rest of the game. Cordarrelle Patterson had a good day on the ground collecting 54 yards on seven carries, 7.7 yards per carry. But after the Falcons fell to a 22-6 lead late in the third quarter, it was tough to keep the ball on the ground.
After the Eagles started 4/6 on third-down, they ended up 6/13 on the day and 0/2 on fourth down. The defense got the ball back to the offense drive after drive. The Falcons offense did not capitalize. With limited snaps in the preseason and a lack of offensive rhythm, Arthur Smith seemed to be quite conservative in his playcalling. There was one play that defined this conservatism early.
Right before the 2-minute warning, 2:05 to be exact, it was third and nine from the Atlanta nine-yard line. Atlanta could have put the ball in the air and put pressure on the Eagles secondary early. Instead, Arthur Smith chose to run the ball with Mike Davis and trust his defense to stop Jalen Hurts and company. The next drive ended up in a touchdown for the Eagles and them going up 15-6 headed into the half. With that momentum and receiving the ball after halftime, the Eagles scored 17 unanswered points to end the game.
Some other questionable decisions that doomed the Falcons came from their first drive on the offensive side of the field. After getting three yards on first and goal on the Philadelphia six-yard line, the expectation would be for the Falcons to continue running. Arthur Smith thought the same thing and instead threw two incomplete passes on the Philadelphia three-yard line.
Penalties, Penalties, Penalties
The Falcons were driving the ball down to a first and goal at the two-yard line after a defensive holding call late in the first quarter. But after a false start that drove them back to the seven-yard line, the Falcons inevitably stalled out yet again. Yet another way that the offensive rhythm for the Falcons was doomed was the number of penalties. Even more important than the number was the timing of them.
As seen before, the Falcons committed penalties at the worst possible times. The Falcons defense made a huge fourth-down stop at the Atlanta 19-yard line with 6:57 left in the third quarter. The score at this time is still 15-6. Scoring a touchdown on this drive would be monumental to getting back into the ball game. The first-down play saw a Kyle Pitts swing route called back due to a poorly executed “pick” route by Hayden Hurst. Pitts made up 18 yards on the next play. Patterson recovered a Matt Ryan fumble on second-down. On third-down, Mike Davis flared out and saw nothing but green grass. He scampered down the sideline for a significant gain. The Falcons offense was ready to get rolling. That was until the play was called back for an unnecessary pick route while the ball was in the air from Calvin Ridley. The Falcons kicked it back to the Eagles after failing on third down. After that, the blowout commenced.
The Falcons have a long way to go after this performance. Next week the Falcons face the 2020 Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jalen Hurts dropped 260+ yards and three touchdowns with a new head coach and scheme on this defense. The Falcons only put up 260 yards against an Eagles offense that is solid at best. It does not look good for the Atlanta Falcons.