The 1st regular season game ended in a loss for your hometown Atlanta Falcons in New Orleans to the hated Saints on Sunday by the score of 23-17. A lot of opportunities were squandered for Atlanta offensively that may have cost them the contest, however, in the end I took away some positives. The young Falcons Corners, Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant look promising. They essentially, for lack of a better term got “abused” in the preseason. But in hindsight I guess that abuse could be considered just growing pains that were important to get them ready for the bright lights of the regular season. Steven Jackson looks like the perfect pickup for this offense. I tweeted that the differences between Jackson and last years’ running back Michael Turner is the ability to cut on a dime, acceleration, and the obvious pass catching ability in this offense. Jackson had a decent game for it to be his 1st as a Falcon. The final thing that stuck out positively for Atlanta is the interior defensive line. Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters looked good in both stopping the run and getting to Drew Brees. Despite the positives for the Atlanta Falcons there were some obvious things they need to work through. Here is what I think they should address;
1. I know I am beating a dead horse but the offensive line must continue to gain continuity. They started well but as Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator for the Saints started playing “games”, twists with the outside linebackers and down lineman, blitzing corners and safeties, the line looked pedestrian at best. All was not lost with this unit but the only way to gain continuity is experience, therefore growing pains will continue.
2. Offensive continuity and rhythm in play calling must be established. Because of the limited carries in the preseason for Steven Jackson, primarily as a precautionary tactic, I really do not think that Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter knew what he truly had in Steven Jackson. I think the philosophy must change slightly to be in tune with an inexperienced offensive line and defensive schemes that gear up to stop what teams think the Falcons are in the passing game. Versatility is key in balancing those scales.
3. The Atlanta Falcons must address linebacker coverage in the intermediate and deep areas, especially when they play 2-deep coverage. New Orleans did a fantastic job in establishing mismatches with Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston who occasionally were covered by Linebacker Akeem Dent. That cannot happen going forward and must be addressed through scheme or personnel.
The Atlanta Falcons are 0-1. The sky is not falling as of yet and the problems for the team are very correctable. I think the play of the young secondary without Asante’ Samuel did a lot to give Mike Nolan some drawing board material but only experience will fix it all. I am looking forward to the rest of the season. Check out my podcast on Thursday previewing the upcoming game for the Falcons on Sunday versus the St. Louis Rams.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and The Atlanta Falcons Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. He can be followed on Twitter @coachjdub21.