Welcome back, NFL! The start of the season is filled with more unbridled hope and unwarranted faith than a blind date. Last season we witnessed Tom Brady pull the baton back from the hands of Patrick Mahomes. How will 2021 go? Who will rise from the cinders of 2020? The league is full of fanbases hoping that this might be their year, but only one will be correct. Fortunately for one fan base, there is no reason to believe in 2021. Week one was a quick reminder that the Atlanta Falcons are slowly taking the band-aid off for their inevitable rebuild. I am sorry for your loss, Falcons fans, but your season is already over.
Atlanta did its best to set the bar low by trading future Hall of Famer, Julio Jones in the off-season and playing week one in what appeared to be their practice jerseys. The Falcons struggled to find an offensive rhythm all game as they settled for only two field goals in the first half.
As a team in transition, the Falcons combined Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson into the running back committee that one would imagine could net 103 yards combined. That is hardly the vision one could assume that Arthur Smith was looking to create.
Outside the two initial field goals, the Falcons were never able to get past the Eagles’ 49-yard line. One could argue that this is week one and this is just the start of a new coach getting their team’s new identity installed. However, the Falcons identity ever since the epic Super Bowl choke has been to be a one-dimensional offense with minimal defensive ability.
The Falcons’ air attack has been a staple for so many years, but no longer. Week one was a struggle for Matt Ryan, as he couldn’t get much done with Ridley as his true WR1 and the most hyped TE in years, Kyle Pitts. Ridley led the team with five receptions while the longest pass was to the rookie Pitts for eighteen yards. Ultimately, the one-two punch finished with 82 yards. The Eagles were able to get the better of Ryan when needed, sacking him three times, and twice on fourth down.
The Eagles entered week one with a new coach and a clear plan, with Jalen Hurts leading the offense. Atlanta’s defense was unable to minimize the success of the second-year QB, leading to their downfall. Hurts had the exact same number of passing attempts as Matt Ryan, but put up 264 yards and three touchdowns to Ryan’s 164 yards and zero touchdowns. The Eagles drafted Hurts’ former college teammate and Heisman winner, Devonta Smith, to help Hurts. The pairing looks to be a wise move as the first TD of the game was with the former Bama duo, and Smith ended with 6 catches for 71 yards in his debut.
Looking at the rest of the NFC South, it is clear the Falcons are the weakest team. That stings more than one can imagine knowing two teams chose Sam Darnold and Jameis Winston to lead their teams. Fear not, Falcons fans, it will be only a matter of time before your team is back falling short of winning the big game!
As for now, sorry for your loss, Atlanta, but your season is over!
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