Sunday Night wrap-up: Falcons putting up familiar offensive numbers

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The 49ers are 0-2. The Falcons are still scoring points at a remarkable rate.

There will possibly come a time when the Falcons miss former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan — who helped them lead the league in scoring last year. That time was not Sunday night against Green Bay, when they cruised to a mostly comfortable 34-23 win.

Matt Ryan threw for 252 yards and a touchdown and Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for 145 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns and Julio Jones had 108 yards on five catches.

And you know, when you write it out like that, you realize how many players they have, and why that seems to matter more than scheme at the moment.

This is not to say that Shanahan was not an integral part of their success last year, when they scored 540 points (33.8 per game). But his reward was the head coaching job and a six-year contract with the 49ers, where he has a long-term project on his hands.

This is also not to say that new Falcons coordinator Steve Sarkisian is a wizard who will recreate all the old magic and make it better, but watching the Falcons dealing on offense gives the appearance of a smooth transition, and similar results with different voices in the headset.

In a perfect world, they’d have kept the whole band together, and tried to surpass last year’s achievements. But that success drew attention, and other people rightfully wanted in on it.

So if you ever have to choose between brilliant game-plans and brilliant players, take the players every time.

Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:

1. It was hard to tell who the Packers missed the most, with all their injuries.

They started without both starting tackles, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers has made enough adjustments over the years that for a game that didn’t seem the problem (at least in the first half). Wide receiver Jordy Nelson leaving with a quadriceps injury appeared to be more of an issue, as they don’t have a like-for-like replacement on hand (such that anyone does). And by the time Randall Cobb went out with a shoulder injury, the result of the game was effectively decided.

But when defensive tackle Mike Daniels left early with a hamstring problem, it changed the face of their defense. Daniels was an animal last week against the Seahawks, and his ability to control the middle of the line makes everything easier for a defense which has had its ups and downs.

Without him, the Falcons had a little more time throughout, and Ryan was able to exploit that time.

2. The Falcons spent a pile of money on Freeman this offseason, and some wonder whether that’s wise considering the ability of the guy behind him.

But while Coleman is capable of some highlights, the combination in the backfield makes each of them better.

The ability to let Coleman handle a series (or more) gives Freeman a better chance to stay healthy over the course of the season. And even if they can’t pay Coleman when his time comes, they have a good mix now, and keeping them together has a value beyond Freeman’s individual worth.

Then again, since the start of the 2015 season, Freeman has scored 30 touchdowns, so he has plenty of value on his own.

3. For all the things it’s easy for forget about their Super Bowl loss, the fact the Falcons were without one of their top defensive players has to be near the top of the list.

Seeing the difference cornerback Desmond Trufant makes in the Atlanta defense is clear, and not just with the interception he made just before halftime. Recovering the third-quarter lateral/fumble for a touchdown was a matter of being in the right place at the right time, but when your defense is full of young, fast players it’s easier to be in those places.

Trufant’s absence last year didn’t get as much attention as it might have, since their offense got on a roll (and then that Super Bowl thing happened). But now that he’s healthy and making plays, it gives the Falcons someone on the perimeter who has to be planned for.

4. We’re two weeks into a season, and when guys change teams, it generally takes longer than two weeks for them to acclimate to their surroundings.

But the early returns on tight end Martellus Bennett in Green Bay have not been favorable, for what was widely hailed as a good piece of free agent business.

Bennett was targeted 11 times but caught five passes for 47 yards Sunday, and a lot of that was late. He caught three passes for 43 yards last week, when he was targeted six times.

Bennett has been too productive and Rodgers has been too willing to look for tight ends for this combination to not work out, but it’s clear that they still need a minute to get to know each other.

5. The Falcons have a lot of young and fast and explosive players on defense.

They also have a couple of big fellas in the middle who can make plays.

Short-time free agent Dontari Poe was a bargain on a one-year deal, when he didn’t find the free agent riches he was seeking this spring. And coupled with underrated former fifth-rounder Grady Jarrett, the Falcons have a solid foundation at defensive tackle. That’s a good place to start building.

47 responses to “Sunday Night wrap-up: Falcons putting up familiar offensive numbers

  1. Packers again show how overrated they are.

    Just forget who cheers for what team while reading their posts and don’t try to turn it around on them.

    Bottom line – falcons own the packers who played like garbage tonight.

  2. This game felt like it was over in the first half, well, yesterday actually, so we’ve been trying to have a good time partying, eating, watching SNF, boozing, and eating more, except that our Packers really stunk it up tonight, and living in dystopia is still a reality in the morning. Many of our best chokers got hurt tonight. I’m just glad Aaron didn’t get broken. Some of us are worried that the Bengals will break Aaron next week. Sure hope not. He’s all we’ve got.

  3. Congrats to Bird fans. The road to the Super Bowl is going through your place. Until the Pack has an answer for your offense, it won’t be close. Davonte, Julio, Sanu and of course Ryan….you are loaded for another run. Good luck the rest of the way,and yes, I hope GB gets another crack at you in the playoffs.

  4. The Packers are an 8-8 team at best. Rodgers is the biggest phony, trash time, stat padder in the history of the league. They’ll always be pretenders as long as Rodgers, McCarthy and Thompson are there.

  5. Oh boo hoo. Every team has injuries.

    Walt Coleman didn’t give GB the game like others do.

    Vaunted defense?

    Lousy football for lousy fans.

  6. Atlanta is so lucky and the refs are always on their side.

    (Which fans do I sound like???)

    Good win for ATL – Pack has a lot to fix to be and compete with the elite.

  7. filthymcnasty3 says:
    September 10, 2017 at 7:44 pm
    85 Bears.

    ————————————————

    Yeah, the ’85 Bears never got slapped around like GB did tonight….never looked soft like GB did tonight either…

  8. I think the league should continue to schedule the packers as the opponent for the first game at a nice new facility like the Vikings and Falcons now have. It’s really nice for them to be able to break in their new home with an easy win.

  9. Every team has injuries… their fans don’t know how to be classy. I ain’t gonna gloat over theirs. It looked to me like GB just quit. Get ready for sub. 500 season. They’ve quit already in game 2.

  10. Once again, Aaron Rodgers fails to lead his team to a 4th quarter comeback.

    He did manage to pad his stats like he usually does in a losing effort.

    But in all honesty, 343 yards passing with 50 attempts really isn’t very good. Really, less than 7 yards per pass average against a prevent defense…

    Especially when you factor in his two turnovers, Rodgers sucked.

  11. I see the Packers are already in their all too familiar injured form. Yeah every team has injuries, but it’s hard to win when both of your starting tackles and top 2 receivers are out, especially on the road against a team as good as the Falcons.

    Between that and the fact that the Pack was left for dead early in the 2nd half, I’m proud of Rodgers and Packers team for keeping this game somewhat competitive.

  12. By my count that is 3 consecutive games played against the Falcons without a healthy Jordy Nelson. Had he been able to play like his old self in any of them they would’ve had a drastically different ending. Also, props to the falcons’ front for getting to Rodgers 4 times after facing 2 tackles with a combined 1 game of experience between them. Great game played by Ty Montgomery and Mohammed Sanu. Pitiful performance by the Packers defense and lack of concentration and drops in the 1st quarter pretty much sealed the deal for the game, yet again. You can get behind all you want but if your defense can’t stop the opposing offense there is absolutely no chance of a comeback.

  13. “the early returns on tight end Martellus Bennett in Green Bay have not been favorable”

    They should have kept Cook as their TE. And as long as they have McCarthy and Capers, it won’t matter anyway. Just a pathetic display of preparation and adjustment, again.

  14. “The Falcons are still scoring points at a remarkable rate.”
    It’s good to see them adding to last years success… All while still learning a new offense… Once they’ve learned the new system, things should get even more interesting…

  15. Hey whether your a fan or not, you couldnt miss seeing the sloppy attempt at tackling by the packers. Falcons running backs got yards due to missed tackles not holes be open. This is the worst tackling team in football.
    Second, just because your star dman is out, where are the others? You got one real pass rusher? Yes because Ted T will not draft of pay for a real DE they costs to dam much so he uses linebackers instead. No pass rush tonight at all for the packers. Of Course Ryan and Julio will look all world. Last week they looked like bums.
    Capers has slow of foot dbacks and cant get them to play zone or one or one, they are clueless and poor tacklers

  16. Hey does anyone not think Atlanta looked at film and told the refs pre game, watch the pick plays the Packers do. They called three of them tonight like they knew what to be looking for and they also were dam aware two new guys who never played for the packers were on the O line and probably would be false starts.

  17. The better team lost tonight. Should be an interesting season as the Packers are the best team in the league.

  18. I guess the slobbering over Aaron Rogers and the Packers by the media will subside for a few weeks.

    Falcons are the better team and possibly the best team in the NFC right now. Media narrative be damned.

  19. usdcoyotesfan says

    I’m proud of Rodgers and Packers team for keeping this game somewhat competitive.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    You are proud of Rodgers and the Packers scoring a few points in garbage time against a prevent defense???

    Rodgers threw 50 passes – and only had 343 yards – that’s less than 7 yards per play. Rodgers personally had two turnovers that turned into 14 points.

    I suppose next you’ll try and tell us again how you beat up Russell Wilson…

  20. So much for the Packers #1 power ranking. Looks like that got kicked to the curb pretty hard last night. They said last week the Packers defense was “fixed.” I’m sure they’ll explain this week they meant neutered….

  21. Congrats to the Falcons. They were tremendous last night. The one thing you can always say about the Packers is that their fans are as gracious in defeat as they are in their many, many wins.

  22. h0metownzero says:

    The one thing you can always say about the Packers is that their fans are as gracious in defeat as they are in their many, many wins.
    **********************

    Did you actually read and comprehend the posts of your fellow Packer fans?

  23. So many MN fans crowing you’d think it was their team that beat us. What a sad pathetic bunch. They must’ve forgot their team lost too….but as they say in MN a Packer loss is better than a Vikings win anyway.

  24. Bennett has been too productive and Rodgers has been too willing to look for tight ends for this combination to not work out, but it’s clear that they still need a minute to get to know each other.
    ————-
    I thought texting each other emojis over the summer was suppose to bypass this getting to know you period.

  25. The loss isn’t too surprising. Going on the road against the conf. champs as they open their new stadium in primetime, without the starting OTs, losing the top 2 WRs and the top defender early – really is it somehow shocking that they lost? Yes, every team has injuries, and those teams generally don’t beat a team playing like ATL did last night.

    All credit to ATL for a dominating offensive night. The officials didn’t cost GB the game, but if I’m McCarthy, I’m sending those two pick calls in for the weekly review. The 2nd one especially looked like a WR running a route, with the db initiating the physical contact.

    If I recall, Jared Cook took a couple of games before really coming on last year. Let’s hope Bennett gets through that period quickly, especially with Jordy and Randall banged up. Finally, was Janis ever used from scrimmage? If not, how deep down the depth chart must he really be?

  26. Let’s face it! Mike McCarthy, otherwise known as Coach McPositive in Wisconsin by real football fans has run his course. This is, and always has been an average team riding the luck and arm of Arron Rodgers. The team has a WR at RB, they’ve been exposed with their pick plays they run and continue to cry for pass interference when they don’t catch the ball, insert Jordy Nelson here.

    OVERRATED! Plain and simple.

    They ought to start thinking about trading Rodgers now. Because he’s not going to last the season behind that offensive line.

  27. So we attended the Falcons/Packers game at the new stadium last night. Awesome job on the new digs Atlanta. Very cool stadium. And also very loud because it was a sold out packed-in crowd. But I figured that was by design. Of course they would make it that way for home field advantage. But here is the strange part. In the last quarter, when the Falcons had the game in hand, most of the Falcons fans had departed. It was less than ½ full. Getting a head start on traffic I guess. (Something you would never see in Green Bay).
    But…. When the Packers had the ball, it was just as loud as when the place was packed. And the ones that were there weren’t making much noise.

    Hmmmmmmmmm Would Arthur Blank be so stupid? After he was caught piping in noise in the old Dome? Or maybe he thinks nobody would think he would do it again?

    Very strange indeed….

  28. pkrlvr says:
    September 18, 2017 at 9:23 am
    So many MN fans crowing you’d think it was their team that beat us. What a sad pathetic bunch. They must’ve forgot their team lost too….but as they say in MN a Packer loss is better than a Vikings win anyway.

    —-
    Predictable. Subject is the packers playing like garbage and your response is Vikings related. You do realize there are more teams than the Vikings who think the Packers are garbage right?

  29. pkrlvr says:

    September 18, 2017 at 9:23 am

    So many MN fans crowing you’d think it was their team that beat us. What a sad pathetic bunch. They must’ve forgot their team lost too….but as they say in MN a Packer loss is better than a Vikings win anyway.

    The Vikings lasted longer in a game, without their starting QB than the Packers lasted in this game with their starting QB. It’s pretty unclassy to put a team down that loses their starting QB. The Vikings were in the game until the end of the third Quarter, until Steelers tired out the Vikings Defense because the backup quarterback couldn’t keep drives going. Our defense kept them in the game. The Packers were out of the game by half time against the Falcons. Of Course the Vikings are not going to win in Pittsburg without their starting QB. The Packers will lose every game if they lose Rodgers.

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