The Atlanta Falcons (0-1) Week 2 matchup with Dallas Cowboys (0-1) is a critical one for several reasons. As the Falcons look to get their first win of the season on the road against a tough NFC opponent, FOX color analyst Daryl Johnston joins AtlantaFalcons.com to provide his insight and analysis heading into Sunday's game.
Question: What were your thoughts on the Falcons after watching their Week 1 performance against the Seahawks?
Daryl Johnston: A situation where there was an opportunity to make plays in critical times and they were not able to do that. Like everyone saw, fourth down became the pivotal down for that game. The Falcons went 0 for 4, the Seahawks went 1 for 1. If you look at everything else, there was an opportunity to win that game. I think that's probably why there's a little bit of disappointment from Dan Quinn and the guys that they played well enough, they just didn't make the critical plays at critical times.
Q: What did you not like?
Johnston: Everybody has made a big deal about the tightness of the coverage. Russell Wilson has the type of day he has statistically and even with pressure, it seems like there wasn't enough challenged throws when you look at the coverage. Even Coach Quinn came out and said he didn't think it was that they weren't playing tight coverage, they gave Russell Wilson to much information pre-snap which is something you can't do. One of the interesting things to follow this week is how much do they change things pre-snap against Dak Prescott compared to Russell Wilson last week?
Q: What did you like most about what the Falcons did in that game?
Johnston: I liked the way they ran the ball in the first half, and I think it's smart right now because we don't know how Todd Gurley's knee is going to hold up for the long haul. So, to be able to share the reps with him and Brian Hill and Ito Smith I think is smart at this time. Keep him healthy for a potential playoff push at the end of the season. I did not agree with the decision to abandon the run at the start of the second half. If you're running the ball effectively, it has to be a part of your offense moving forward. They still threw the ball really well in the second half, you can't argue with the production they had. But I would like to see a little bit more of a balance. You want your offensive line to get better, that was one of the challenges Coach Quinn had for his guys in training camp. So, continue to believe in them and give them the opportunity.
Q: What success did the Rams have against the Cowboys that the Falcons can take from them?
Johnston: One of the big things Sean McVay wanted to do was get the offensive line back to where they were, running the ball effectively which allows them to run all of their misdirection and boots that come off that. You kind of heard the same thing from Atlanta. You wonder if Atlanta watched how effectively the Rams controlled that game running the football. You've got Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and a young secondary for the Cowboys. How do I strike that balance? For me, you look at how the Falcons threw the ball against Seattle and potentially could against Dallas, but don't lose sight of how much that running game for the Rams was effectively helping their passing game. That's what will be interesting to see.
Who is the player you're most interested in watching for the Falcons in this game?
Johnston: I want to see if Takk McKinley can build off Week 1. He's off to a good start this season, it'll be interesting to see if he can continue that.
Q: The Falcons will win if …
Johnston: If they don't become one-dimensional offensively.
Center Alex Mack looked strong and commanding in the first day back ahead of the matchup in Dallas. Take a look at the best images from practice in this gallery, presented by Quikrete.