Entering Week 3 of the 2020 NFL season, 11 teams sit at 0-2; unfortunately, the Falcons are among them. There have been both positives and negatives on the field for Atlanta in its first two games, but the Falcons are still seeking their first win of the season.
ESPN's Bill Barnwell shared his thoughts on the 11 teams without a victory thus far, ranking them from the team he believes has the least chance of turning things around and making a playoff run to the team he believes has the best chance of doing so. Among the 11 teams, Barnwell ranks the Falcons third behind the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles.
According to the ESPN Football Power Index, the Falcons currently have a 12.4-percent chance of reaching the postseason. What concerns Barnwell about the team moving forward, however, is that the offseason additions haven't substantially impacted the team's performance on the field. He mentions Dante Fowler's one sack and knockdown as well as Todd Gurley's 3.3-yard average through two games.
Still, when looking at the upcoming schedule, Barnwell sees some daylight for Atlanta if the Falcons can get things turned around. There's still a long way to go yet, and things get a little more favorable.
"Atlanta has a pair of 2-0 teams coming up in the Bears and Packers, but Chicago's two games have come down to a drop in the end zone and a failed conversion on fourth down," Barnwell writes. "After that, the Falcons have five straight games against 0-2 teams in the Vikings, Lions, Broncos and a pair against the Panthers before their Week 10 bye. As disgusted as they must be to sit here at 0-2, the Falcons have the sort of schedule that could allow them to turn it around quickly."
In two games back, Keanu Neal 'playing like myself'
After back-to-back season-ending injuries, it's been good to see Keanu Neal back on the field for the Falcons. He made several big hits against Dallas, asserting himself as the defense's enforcer in the middle of the field. As with most players coming off of injury, it's taken Neal a bit of time to fully regain the confidence in his body and trusting it to play at full speed. With the defense playing 82 snaps against the Cowboys, of which he was on the field for 64, Neal feels like he's finally getting back to normal.
"(I'm) playing like myself," Neal told reporters Wednesday. "I think the first game I was out there playing, but there were certain things where I wasn't as fluid or moving the way I wanted to. Last game, I felt like I was."
Hayden Hurst shares support for Dak Prescott
Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst is an advocate for discussing and understanding mental health struggles. As someone who has battled his own thoughts of suicide, Hurst appreciated the comments recently made by Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. In an episode of the television program "In Depth with Graham Bensinger," Prescott explained that he sought help over the offseason after experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Hurst, himself, attempted suicide in 2016 while deep in a downward spiral of depression. Through the help of mental health experts, the Falcons tight end pulled himself out of the tailspin and is in the process of building a successful career in the NFL. On Sunday against the Cowboys, Hurst caught his first touchdown pass as a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
Following the game, Hurst made a point to seek out Prescott and thank him for discussing a subject that has had a great impact on Hurst's life.
Hurst spoke with ESPN’s Vaughn McClure about his comments with Prescott after the game and his appreciation for someone with his stature raising awareness for the issue.
"I thought it was awesome," Hurst told ESPN. "I'm sure Dak Prescott doesn't really know who I am. But I know the courage that takes, because a lot of people don't like talking about mental health. They're afraid to talk about it. They're embarrassed. If guys like Dak Prescott can come out and talk about it, I think he's going to save a lot of lives. I think that's cool. I admire him. And I'll be a Dak Prescott fan forever. I think he's an awesome guy."
NFL rookie studs and duds from Week 2
Although it wasn't a great performance for the defense in Atlanta's Week 2 loss in Dallas, rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell had a good showing. He made several well-timed tackles and was in good position to knock a couple of passes away against some talented Cowboys receivers. In his review of the most recent NFL action, Pro Football Focus's Sam Monson listed Terrell among his "stud" rookies of the week.
Few players struggled as badly as A.J. Terrell in their Week 1 debuts. He, along with the rest of the Falcons, was lit up by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' passing attack. While the Falcons' defense still couldn't slow down the opposition much in Week 2, Terrell at least had a significant bounce-back game on an individual level. He was thrown at three times, with Dak Prescott and the Cowboys instead attacking the combination of Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Oliver a combined 21 times. Of those three targets, Terrell allowed just one catch for seven yards, notching a pair of defensive stops.
Terrell was also sent on a corner blitz once and registered a knockdown of Prescott on the play. It was a bumpy start for the first-round rookie on opening weekend, but Week 2 was far more encouraging.
More headlines for Falcons fans
- AtlantaFalcons.com: Ryan on being 0-2, facing Bears pass rush
- AtlantaFalcons.com: Nine players held out of Wednesday’s practice
- AtlantaFalcons.com: Falcons will monitor Julio’s hamstring
- AtlantaFalcons.com: Falcons will begin hosting limited fans on Oct. 11
- NFL.com: Unpleasant and pleasant surprises in Week 2
- NFL.com: Devonta Freeman signing with Giants
- CBSSports.com: Early 2021 NFL mock draft
- ESPN.com: Week 2 NFL overreactions
- TheRinger.com: The winners and losers of Week 2
- AJC.com: Matt Ryan’s fundraiser focused on helping youth
- AJC.com: Keanu Neal says confidence has returned
- AJC.com: Falcons run game looking for room to run