Early Bird Report: Initial reactions to the Falcons-Vikings game

Today’s Early Bird Report includes a few different national media reactions to the Falcons’ Week 1 loss.

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The Falcons began their 2019 season with a 28-12 loss on the road to the Vikings, and the reactions were as rapid as always. There were plenty of takeaways from Atlanta’s performance in Week 1, including a need to tight up the run defense, which Vaughn McClure wrote about for ESPN.

“Sure, the Falcons had costly turnovers, allowed too much pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan and couldn't get receiver Julio Jones involved against two-man coverage,” McClure writes. “But fixing the run defense has to be a primary point of emphasis moving forward. With Dan Quinn coordinating the defense, the Falcons surrendered 172 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns to the Vikings. They failed to set the edge, which needs to be fixed before facing guys like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey or even Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard of the Eagles next Sunday night. ‘We've got to go back to work and address it if we want to have a good defense,’ defensive tackle Grady Jarrett said. ‘Teams are going to do that against us, they're going to attack the edge.’"

To read the rest of ESPN’s takeaways from Sunday’s games, click here.

Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:

NFL.com: What we learned from Sunday’s Week 1 games

Atlanta’s run defense wasn’t the only national media takeaways from Sunday. NFL.com’s Grant Gordon wrote about the Falcons-Vikings matchup, and he had plenty to say about the start to the game for both teams as well as Julio Jones catching his first touchdown pass. But he also had a point to make about the running backs in this game.

“Running backs Dalvin Cook of the Vikings and Devonta Freeman of the Falcons each returned to action following injury-shortened seasons looking to rebound for teams looking, much the same, for returns to form following playoff-less 2018 campaigns,” Gordon writes. “The contrasting outcomes for the backs - who each attended Miami Central High - were very much emblematic of their teams' fates and outlooks going forward. Cook was simply outstanding in his return. It was on the second drive that he began to shine with two carries covering 40 yards, including a 19-yard split around left end to the pylon. Cook concluded his statement-making return with 21 carries for 111 yards and two scores and provided reason to believe he can still be the back everyone expected him to be before he was derailed after four games in his rookie season. Perhaps more importantly, Cook could revitalize a rushing attack largely absent last year when the Vikings stumbled. Freeman had less than 19 yards rushing in his return. He was stifled and frustrated. Just like the Falcons as a whole. As the returning RBs went, so to did their teams.”

To read the rest of Gordon’s takeaways, click here.

Pro Football Focus: ReFocused – Falcons vs. Vikings

As they do after each game, the analysts at Pro Football Focus had their immediate evaluations. While they don’t have the player grades right after each performance, they are able to provide a valuable glimpse of their first impressions. On the Falcons’ side, Grady Jarrett was a clear standout in this game.

“Any doubts about Grady Jarrett resting on his laurels after his big offseason contract extension evaporated quickly,” PFF writes. “He may have ended up on the losing team, but his performance on the interior was a tour de force of defensive tackle play, as he got into the backfield against both the pass and run, while picking up a forced fumble on his quarterback sack.”

To see the rest of PFF’s reactions to the Falcons-Vikings game, click here.

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