FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes what we learned from the Falcons’ loss to the Eagles among other takeaways from the game.
The Falcons dropped their season opener to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles 18-12 on Thursday night in a game where they once again had an opportunity to win it at the very end.
While certainly not the start to the year Atlanta wanted, the Falcons now have a long week to clean up some of the offensive issues and build on a strong defensive performance. Neither team played a crisp or clean game – there were 26 combined penalties – but Week 1 tends to lead to those type of performances.
Following the game, NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman shared his thoughts on what he learned from the 2018 NFL Kickoff.
Among Bergman’s first thoughts was the performance of the Falcons offense in the red zone, which wasn’t at all what they had hoped it would be.
“The red zone woes that plagued Atlanta all last season are back and as frustrating as ever,” Bergman writes. “The Falcons made five trips inside the 20-yard line and came away with just nine points. After trying to feed Devonta Freeman and avoiding Julio to no avail on Atlanta's first-quarter red-zone drives, embattled offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian switched it up in the final frame -- but the strategy was equally ineffective. Ryan threw a pick in Jones' direction early in the fourth quarter and overshot the receiver twice at the end of the game. How Atlanta solves this endemic inability to finish drives and games is TBD.”
That was just one of the nine things Bergman said he learned from the game. To see what else he had to say, click here.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
Pro Football Focus: Refocused – Falcons vs. Eagles
After each game Pro Football Focus takes a quick look at what happened and the key things that led to the game’s outcome. Following the Falcons’ loss, their senior analysts noted that Matt Ryan was inconsistent throughout the game and that although Julio Jones had a big night with 10 catches for 169 yards, there was some lack of chemistry between quarterback and receiver.
Defensively, they had high praise for linebacker Deion Jones.
“Entering his third season, linebacker Deion Jones is off to a hot start and he more than deserves to be in the conversation for the best linebacker in the league,” PFF writes. “He excelled in coverage on the night, getting his hands on numerous passes, including recording an interception off a tipped pass.”
To read more of what PFF had to say, click here.
ESPN: Matt Ryan needs to help Falcons regain offensive swagger
Much has already been said of the Falcons’ offensive performance on Thursday night, and we don’t have to go into more detail on that here, but ESPN’s Vaughn McClure believes it’s quarterback Matt Ryan who needs to help the offense bounce back. Ryan did not have his typical performance in Week 1, but he’s confident they can change that moving forward.
"I really believe we're going to make those plays as we move forward," an optimistic Ryan said. "It just comes down to making a play here or there. And I think when we get those changes again, we're going to come up with those plays. But we're going to continue to work at it and practice it. I think we are closer. We're disappointed that we didn't make those plays tonight. But I'm confident that we're going to make them moving forward."