As another week goes by, it seems that the world may never see the 2021 Atlanta Falcons play a complete game. The Falcons did enough to survive the Jacksonville Jaguars late rally, but the win does not feel satisfying. None of the wins this season do. Whenever it feels that Atlanta will get rolling and put the game away early, they open a window of opportunity for the opposition. Luckily, Jacksonville did not have the personnel and late-game mettle to capitalize. So, without further ado, it is now time to take a deeper dive into Atlanta’s 21-14 win versus the Jacksonville Jaguars
Atlanta Falcons Survive Jacksonville Jaguars Rally
Matty Ice Still Freezing
Remember when Matt Ryan was a part of the reason why the Falcons were winning? When Ryan would carve up the New Orleans Saints defense? That game was only 21 days ago, but after three straight weeks of under 200 yards of production, it feels like it was eons ago.
Amidst the win, Ryan, by far, did not play his best. His QBR merely hit an abysmal 31.4 rating. This is after a 23.3 rating against the New England Patriots and a historically bad 7.8 against the Dallas Cowboys. Ryan’s throws seemed off. They seemed rushed.
A perfect example would be the third-and-six throw to Cordarrelle Patterson midway through the second quarter. Jacksonville sends four and hurries Ryan’s throw to Patterson. Because of the hurry, the throw is too far inside, and Patterson cannot adjust to it. It was a clear Cover-2 look both pre-play and after the snap. The corner on that side passes off Tajae Sharpe, who runs a stop route in the soft spot in the zone between the cornerback and safety. An easy opportunity for a first down completion and to keep the drive moving. Instead, he feels the pressure and tries to force it into the hands of a playmaker, and it ends up incomplete.
Matt Ryan plays his best when he is getting everybody involved, not force-feeding his best guys. Against the Saints, seven receivers recorded a reception, with four guys getting three or more for 58+ yards. The offense is more efficient when everyone is a threat to get the football, not just Pitts or Patterson. Today, that was not the case as Pitts was targeted six times for only 26 yards.
Enough negativity, the Falcons still landed a win in the National Football League. After celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, the Falcons got some surprising performances on Sunday just in time for the holiday season.
Russell Gage came out and looked like the Russell Gage of old against the Jaguars. He had seven targets and completed six of them for 62 yards and the lone passing touchdown. On the touchdown, the playcalling by Smith and the execution by Gage and Zaccheus went together perfectly to confuse the Jaguars secondary. Another example of what can happen when looking outside of just Pitts and Patterson.
Speaking of Patterson, he again shows why his nickname in Atlanta should forever be “Scordarrelle Patterson.” He added two more touchdowns, both on the ground, to end the day with 108 yards on the ground on just 16 carries. The Jaguars had no answer for the 6’2”, 230-pound star as he barrelled through defenders all day long. The offensive line getting a good push against a struggling Jacksonville defensive line also helped.
The final surprise came from none other than dependable fullback/tight end Keith Smith. Yes, he only got two receptions for 16 yards, but both of his receptions gave the offense a jolt of life. An easy feat when you run a grown man slap over on the way to a first down.
Today Was Still a Good Day
While the Falcons did have to survive the late rally of the Jaguars, it was still a good day overall. The defense caused two turnovers and kept Lawrence uncomfortable for much of the day. Lawrence and feature back James Robinson did gash the Jags for 119 yards on 22 carries but that is beside the point. Overall, the Falcons defense did their job and had an acceptable showing for the second week in a row.
After this win and a beautiful drubbing of the Saints on Thanksgiving, the Falcons sit at second in the NFC South. More importantly, they are only a half-game out of the second wild-card spot in the playoff picture. There’s not much time to celebrate though as a struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers team is coming in next Sunday looking for a game to jumpstart their playoff push.