Editor's note: Archer's Take is a weekly series in which Falcons analyst Dave Archer provides insight and analysis of each Falcons game.
Matt Ryan is playing at MVP level
Matt Ryan's level of play right now is off the charts. He made a number of plays off his back foot last night, losing ground with pressure coming and finding guys to extend drives. There's nobody else in the league playing better than he is.
Matt continues to mystify us with his ability to excel, even without much help from the running game to this point of the season. Right now, that's the major difference between this offense and the group in 2016. The running game was really strong in 2016. There hasn't been as much of that this year.
Now, I will say, the Falcons opponents are still respecting the running game right now and I wonder if that will go away as they look to slow down Matt and the passing attack. The play action has been very effective thus far.
Falcons defensive success started with stopping Saquon Barkley and the run game
I thought that stopping Saquon Barkley was the key to the game. And I think what the Falcons defense did to him did give the Giants issues finding a rhythm. When they couldn't get Barkley going, either through the short passing attack, the run game or through play action, I thought it frustrated to the young running back and I thought it frustrated Head Coach Pat Shurmur calling plays because he couldn't get him going.
It was good for the Falcons to have Grady Jarrett and Derrick Shelby back. It was a really good job by defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel's group to corral Barkley, to use leverage, get a lot people to the football and prevent him from making any explosive plays. They had 20 different guys play on the defensive side of ball last night. In fact, they played five different linebackers including Bruce Carter and Kemal Ishmael.
Now, the two receivers did have big days. I think the Falcons corners could have played better. I didn't think Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant played as well last night has they had been playing in previous games. But that unit was able to shut down the Giants' running attack, and that was the key to disrupting their attack.
Grady Jarrett's first sack was a signal to teammates
Grady's sack was an effort sack. It was his relentlessness on the inside. When you get one of those types of plays, it can kick start everyone on defense. Guys are excited that he's back on the field after a few weeks, then he makes a play. Then you start to realize "OK, we've got that interior presence again that can be a disruptor on the inside." That can get everyone going.
Grady Jarrett and the interior pass rush made the edge rush more effective too
For a drop-back quarterback like Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, interior push is the most effective way to pressure them. Grady Jarrett really provided that for the Falcons in this game. And I thought Jack Crawford did a really nice of that in the interior as well. Grady can play the pass and the run extremely well, and Crawford is more of a pass rusher to the inside. When you get those guys on the field pass rushing with Takk McKinley and Vic Beasley coming off the edge, I think that's a pretty good group getting after the passer.
And I think because Grady was having success getting push up the middle that Vic was very active last night in the rush last night. There's been some criticism levied at Vic because he doesn't have the numbers that everyone wants to quantify his performance with, but when you start to talk about quarterback pressures, I would credit him with four or five quarterback pressures last night. That created problems for Eli, and give Grady some credit for creating that interior push.
When Marvin Hall is called on, he's ready to go
Strangely enough, on Marvin Hall's touchdown the Falcons had a big group in the game and it looked like they were going to run it there. They showed play action and then Marvin wins down the middle on the post route with his great speed. Matt Ryan threw a beautiful ball, a rainbow shot that comes right down the chimney chute and Marvin squeezed it for the catch.
The thing that stands out about Marvin Hall is that he plays a lot of special teams but he steps up when he's called on for the offense. Those are the stories we all love because these guys are all busting their rear ends to get on the field, then you get to see them make a big play when they do get on the field.
Tevin Coleman stayed with it, and it finally opened up
Tevin Coleman is a guy that has shown some perseverance because he hasn't had a lot of running room this season. This was one of those games where there was nothing there for most of the game, but Tevin did a nice job of sticking with his running lines. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has talked about this not just being an issue with the offensive line, but also the running backs needing to trust their lines and hitting their landmarks where they're supposed to be. Tevin did a good job of that on the touchdown run.
He got really good blocks from Ben Garland and Ryan Schraeder on that right side, Alex Mack sealed the inside and then Tevin found the crease. And then we see the great speed that he possesses. Once he hit the second level, there was no one there to disrupt him. That run showed how explosive Tevin Coleman can be, and the Falcons need to find more opportunities for him to run the ball.
Tevin wasn't as strong in pass protection in this game. He missed a number of guys in pass protection. We know his prowess as a running back in the open field, but as he evolves as a running back he's got room for improvement in that area.
Dan Quinn's gutsy call for 56-yard field goal started in the preseason
It goes all the way back to the last week of the preseason for Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. They bring Giorgio Tavecchio in and they sit their two kickers, Matt Bryant and Matt Bosher for that game and they let Tavecchio do the kicking. A trust level developed there, and he became a viable option for the Falcons should something happen to Bryant down the road. Fortunately for Atlanta, he didn't get another call.
I asked Dan Quinn during the week, "Where's your trust level with Tavecchio?" and he said "Well, I'm going to have to work on that as the week goes along." On Thursday, he really wasn't sure. But he saw Tavecchio kicking in pre-game and liked his demeanor, liked how calm he was, and how good he was hitting it. The moment wasn't too big for him. Give Dan Quinn credit for trusting the guy to go out there and pound it through.