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Early Bird Report: Steve Sarkisian finding his stride; Falcons' winning formula

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes the growth and success of Steve Sarkisian as offensive coordinator as well as a possible winning formula for the Falcons.

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Coming out of the Falcons’ season-opening loss to the Eagles, the noise surrounding Steve Sarkisian’s ability as an offensive coordinator was at an all-time high. Now, after six games, the noise is far quieter, and a compelling argument could be made Sarkisian is not getting the credit he deserves.

The Falcons are currently a top-10 offensive unit in both yards gained in points scored per game, and that’s with two sub-20-point games among the six they’ve played. The other four games have resulted in an average of over 35 points a game.

Given the injuries to the Falcons’ defense, Atlanta is bound to find itself in plenty of shootouts this season. Thus far, the offense has proven up to the task. Matt Ryan sat down with Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback after the Falcons’ win against the Buccaneers and explained how Sarkisian has developed as the team’s offensive coordinator.

“He’s a lot more comfortable with our personnel, when guys go down, how to use different guys, all of that stuff,” Ryan told Breer after the win. “I think he’s got really good familiarity with our guys at this point and he’s able to adjust really well when different things come up. So he’s done a great job with that. And then I think as players our execution has been better, we’ve done a good job of making plays when we have needed to.

“It’s not an enlightening comment or anything like that, but that’s what it’s been, it’s been better execution and good adjustments by Sark throughout the game.”

To read the rest of Breer’s piece, click here.

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

AJC: Falcons hoping to build off second win of season

There’s no question the Falcons’ second win of the season was a big one. Not only did it come against an NFC South rival, but it stopped a three-game losing streak and built some positive momentum. Moving forward, the Falcons are hoping to keep that momentum rolling and to build upon the foundation they have started.

“For sure, you have to build on momentum,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said on Monday. “What I was looking for coming off the Pittsburgh game (a 41-17 loss), could we play more physical. I wanted to see that part come to life. It certainly took steps in the right direction. Now we have to build on that.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote more about the Falcons’ mentality moving forward, which you can read here.

AJC: Falcons have real shot at playoffs, showed winning formula

Although just 2-4, the Falcons aren’t out of the mix. With many teams near the middle of the pack in the NFC, the Falcons could quickly climb up the standings if they can make a run over the next several games. In a piece for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Michael Cunningham explained how the Falcons showed the formula for winning moving forward.

“The Falcons were better defensively against the Bucs,” Cunningham writes. “As I wrote after the game, that sounds silly after the Falcons allowed 512 total yards and 8.1 yards per play. But I think the Falcons showed the defensive formula they can use to win games: make opponents work their way down the field in small chunks and get some takeaways.”

To read the rest of why Cunningham believes the Falcons can make a run at the playoffs, click here.

CBS Sports: NFL Week 6 grades

To provide his take on how Sunday’s game unfolded, CBS Sports’ John Breech assigned grades for each team. The Falcons and Bucs played a close game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and Breech’s grades for the game reflect that.

Atlanta earned a B from Breech for its performance, while Tampa Bay was one tick lower with a B-.

“It's a good thing Matt Ryan has been on fire lately, because every game the Falcons play in seems to turn into a shootout, and Sunday's game against Tampa was no exception,” Breech writes of the Falcons. “Ryan threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, marking the third time in four weeks that Ryan has thrown for at least 350 yards and three touchdowns. Of course, the Falcons have needed every single one of those yards and that's because their defense has been horrible. Against the Bucs, the Falcons surrendered 512 yards of offense, marking the second time this season that Atlanta has given up more than 500 yards in a home game. If you're wondering how bad that is, the Falcons haven't given up 500 or more yards in multiple home games in the same season since 1966, which happened to be their expansion season.”

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